New typefaces for the daily newspapers published by The McClatchy Company

The McClatchy Company publishes 29 daily newspapers across the US, from Washington, to California, to Kansas, Florida, and the Carolinas, in both large and small markets. Working with Garcia Media, they have spent the last year developing a unified design language that will bring together the print papers, mobile apps, and web editions with a more consistent overall look. However, it was important that the newspapers retain a measure of individuality, rather than all looking exactly the same. Directed by Garcia Media's Reed Reibstein and Mario García, we designed a set of typefaces that will help to bridge the gap between design consistency and individual character. For more information on the redesigns and the underlying strategy and philosophy, please see this excellent post on the Garcia Media blog.

The first set of newspapers to follow this new design paradigm are The Sacramento Bee, The Modesto Bee, and The Merced Sun-Star, with The Fresno Bee to follow in the next week. The remaining 25 dailies will roll out their redesigns in the coming year or so.

The quiet, hardworking core of this new set of typefaces is the text face, which will be common to all 29 dailies: a modified version of Kai Bernau's Lyon Text, with shortened ascenders and descenders to fit better with the tight leading of newspaper text typography. The italics are slightly less angled and a bit wider, keeping the counterforms and arches from clogging up on newsprint. Three grades have been produced for this family, slightly different weights to compensate for different inking on different presses across the country. Though the schedule was highly accelerated, we were able to receive press tests from all 29 newspapers, which helped to determine how heavy the different grades should be, as well as the right range of weights for the headline faces.

The more visible part of this project is a set of three headline families, all drawn on the same character widths and sharing kerning so that they can be subsitituted seamlessly for one another without changing copyfit. We have aimed for a friendly, sophisticated, and distinctly American look for the three families. McClatchy Sans was drawn by Christian Schwartz, McClatchy Serif was drawn by Miguel Reyes, and McClatchy Slab was drawn by Greg Gazdowicz. These headline families build on the ideas explored in Berton Hasebe's Duplex family, which matched a serif and a sans on the same widths, but the addition of a third family added exponentially to the complexity. The designers at Garcia Media and a handful of the McClatchy papers tested Duplex but felt it looked too European. With this in mind, we looked for sources that would feel unambiguously American, landing on a set of typefaces from the Ludlow Typefoundry. Ludlow's typesetting machines were very popular for setting headline type at newspapers throughout the US in the first half of the 20th century, before the rise of phototype.

Because these families are designed for differentiation, they needed to look different, while complementing one another when they are used together. McClatchy Sans takes a number of design cues from Tempo, R. Hunter Middleton's Americanized take on the geometric sans, which seems to borrow as much from sign painter's Gothics as it does from Futura. Since many of the papers had been using Font Bureau's Benton Sans, derived from Franklin Gothic and News Gothic, we felt we had to rule out the American Gothic genre. Angled terminals make the face look warm and approachable, while also adding flexibility in tweaking the character widths to match the other families. McClatchy Sans is the largest of the headline families, with 7 weights, duplexed italics (drawn by Greg Gazdowicz), and a full range of Condensed styles that are used for labels and larger headlines. McClatchy Sans also serves as a workhorse beyond headlines, with a looser Text version in use for captions, weather maps, and other secondary applications.

McClatchy Serif is based on Ludlow Garamond, Middleton's quirky take on French Renaissance types. We felt that an oldstyle would be a more distinctive and interesting choice than a Modern, which seemed like a more overtly historical choice. Miguel Reyes also looked at Sabon, which has more contemporary proportions and a crisper italic. McClatchy Serif has 4 weights, with true cursive italics for all. It is the most visually sophisticated of the three families, with higher contrast and a smaller x-height than the other two, making it feel less compact.

McClatchy Slab started out as a loose interpretation of Ludlow Bookman, the primary headline face in The New York Times throughout most of the 20th century, until the 2005 refresh that replaced it with Matthew Carter's extensive Cheltenham family. However, the character widths of the other two families forced the serifs to become shorter and shorter until McClatchy Slab ended up looking more like a slab serif interpretation of Cheltenham. This family is a bit friendlier than the other two, but the crisp detailing on the serifs keep it newsy and energetic.

A small number of alternates, such as a single-story g (which looked far too silly to include in the Serif), allow for further flexibility and differentiation.

The design process for these three families was far from straightforward. Schwartz drafted the Sans first, so Reyes and Gazdowicz would have widths to work with, but it was important not to think of any one of the three families as the "primary" typeface. As work on the three families progressed, the designers would periodically sit down together to discuss which characters they were having the hardest time fitting onto the widths and where the compromises were most visible, then negotiate changes.

Reibstein and Garcia describe their approach to using these three families as follows:
In practice, each newspaper will select a type palette emphasizing certain of the headline faces across platforms. In print, there are four options for the primary and secondary headlines: #1, Serif and Sans; #2, Slab and Sans; #3, Sans and Serif; and #4, Sans and Slab. At launch on the web, papers using the Serif will have the Serif as their primary headline face, while those using the Slab will have that as their primary face... Palette #1, emphasizing the Serif, is be the most elegant and conservative. #2 is more approachable but still serious. #3 and #4 are the boldest and most newsy.

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Produkt debuts in Le Dimanche Matin and Femina, redesigned by Ariel Cepeda

Ariel Cepeda has redesigned Le Dimanche Matin, the Sunday edition of the Lausanne-based French language Daily Le Dimanche, serving the Vaud region. Headline typography is in Kai Bernau's Lyon Display and Produkt, a slab serif companion to Graphik designed by Berton Hasebe with Christian Schwartz, slated for release in November 2014. Text is in Bernau's Lyon Text, with Graphik playing a supporting role in image captions, info graphics, maps, and other informational typography.

Cepeda has also redesigned the weekly women's magazine Femina, making bold use of Hasebe's Platform and Paul Barnes's complete Austin collection, with Austin Text for text and Austin and Austin Hairline for serif display. Produkt rounds out the type palette here as well, with the middle weights used for sidebars, the boldest weights used for section headers, coverlines, and page furniture, and the prettier light weights used for elegant display typography.

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Duplex for MittMedia, a newspaper group in Sweden

Danish newspaper design specialists Ribergård + Munk commissioned a pair of headline typefaces from us as part of a sweeping overhaul of well over a dozen daily newspapers published throughout Sweden by MittMedia. For more information on the redesign as a whole, see this writeup on Ribergård + Munk's site.

Berton Hasbe designed Duplex Serif and Sans to solve a very specific problem for this newspaper group. A new format was being developed for all of their titles, to decrease ineffeciencies in production and to allow the different titles to more easily share a portion of their stories. However, as publishers of both upmarket and downmarket papers, the owners wanted to keep the general character of each paper intact - louder volume and more of a feeling of immediacy in the downmarket tabloids, and a quieter, more respectable tone of voice in the upmarket tabloids. The solution to this problem was a set of serif and sans serif typefaces with precisely the same spacing, so they could be swapped out to change the character of a page without affecting the copyfit.

A great deal of sleight of hand went into the design of these typefaces. Each weight of Duplex Serif matches with the next heaviest weight of Duplex Sans, so the Sans headlines feel punchier as a whole. Also, the Sans is larger in general, making it feel slightly more condensed, which has the result of making it feel a bit louder.

Duplex Sans started off as an adaptation of one of the narrower widths of Guardian Sans Headline, but the Serif diverges far from the Guardian/Publico model for a distinctly different character that borrows more from the variations on Caslon that were popular for news headlines in the early 20th century. The Guardian family fills out the rest of the type palette, with the Egyptian Text and Agate serving as text and supporting types in all of the group's papers.

So far just Sundsvalls Tidning and Dagbladet have launched with the new format, but the rest of the group's titles will roll it out over the next year.

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3 new families for Helsingin Sanomat

Helsingin Sanomat is Finland's major daily newspaper, with a circulation of around 400,000 on weekdays. A broadsheet since its founding in 1905, the paper made the switch to tabloid format on 8 January 2013. We provided all of the type for the new design: Sanomat, a serif family for headlines in 8 weights, designed by Paul Barnes with Berton Hasebe; Helsingin, a sans family for display use in 9 weights, designed by Christian Schwartz and Vincent Chan; Helsingin Text in 6 weights, for captions, sidebars, info graphics, maps, and listings; and text is in a custom grade of Publico Text which has been fine-tuned for the Helsingin Sanomat's presses. The redesign was conceptualized and executed internally, headed up by group creative director Sami Valtere along with art directors Hannu Pulkkinen and Ari Kinnari.

The tabloid layouts are built on a strong grid of square elements. Sanomat is designed to play against this, with organic forms that warm up the coldness and precision of the underlying page structure. Sanomat is an unusual hybrid: a serif face with flared sans terminals, influenced by 'serifless romans' like Optima and Albertus. The sans influence is even more visible in the italics, which lose almost all of their serifs in the lowercase. This almost inscriptional quality helps the typeface look serious and decidedly upscale—very important traits in maintaining the feel of a quality broadsheet in the tabloid format. The serifs are quite short, particularly on the diagonal characters, because of the preponderance of 'vv' and 'yy' pairs in Finnish. The word for 'goodness', hyvyys, is a good example of diagonal-diagonal combinations. The debut issue of the redesign featured a section explaining the new format, with all of the Sanomat headlines painstaking recreated in felt-tipped marker by the creative director.

Helsingin is a fairly straighforward geometric sans serif, tempering the quirkiness of Sanomat. The pointy terminals reference the iconic geometric architectural lettering in Helsinki's main square, close to the Helsingin Sanomat's offices. To counter the potentially monotonous texture caused by the many repeating letters in Finnish words, we made the bowls a little asymmetrical, more like a humanist sans than a typical geometric. In addition to the newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat has two very popular additional publications: a monthly magazine called Kuukausiliite and a weekly entertainment and nightlife magazine called Nyt. The design of these had evolved in very different directions from the daily paper and from one another. One aim of the redesign effort is to coordinate the design of all of the print products more closely, while still allowing each to keep its individual personality. The wide range of weights in the Helsingin family grew directly out of this aim: punchy bold weights for the younger readership of Nyt and elegant thin weights for the more literary flavor of Kuukausiliite. Additionally, a set of alternates allows the family to be even more flexible.

The new typefaces have debuted in the 8 January edition of Helsingin Sanomat, and will make their way into the magazines, mobile apps, and website soon.

While we did discuss redrawing the nameplate, it was ultimately deemed to be untouchable. There's no other newspaper nameplate like it in the world, and we wouldn't have wanted to ruin it.

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