Times New Roman (TNR) was created by Victor Lardent on commission for the British newspaper The Times in 1931 and then used in the newspaper for 40 years[1]. TNR is used often as the body text in books printed in the USA. Microsoft used this as the default typefaces in many programs (like Word) for many years, and thus it has become a ubiquitous and overused typeface. For this reason, I recommend limited use of TNR. It has a traditional and even conservative feel and comes across as bland and uncreative (due to the overuse). It is both readable and legible.


Category of the typeface[2]: Transitional Serif

Serifs: Sharp serifs

X-heights[3]: relatively short, low-ratio

Width and weight[4]: Medium and medium (wider and heavier than Garamond, lighter and narrower than Georgia)

Structure[5]: Moderate thick/thin transitions, vertical stress, flat arms and cross-strokes

Legibility and Readability[6]: Good for both. Used frequently for print books in the USA. More readable than legible, as the thick/thin transitions can cause issues, especially at larger sizes.

Voice-over and ethos[7]: Traditional, conservative, bland/boring (especially with the frequent use and even overuse of the face), invisible (due to amount of use), masculine, practical. This may be the voice of the painting Son of Man. Strong ethos in business or other uses where readability and traditional are values. Low ethos with those who are sick of its overuse, such as many typographers and graphic designers.

Typefaces that contrast well with it[8]: Sans Serif faces such as Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Calibri, and Bell Gothic.

Typefaces that provide conflict[9]: Other transitional (Baskerville, Bell, Bookman, New York, Perpetua, and Georgia). Since TNR is a transitional face, some Modern (Bodoni, Elephant, Bernard MT Condensed) and Old Style (Book Antiqua, Bookman, Garamond, and Palatino) may also conflict, so it is best to avoid typefaces from both categories.

Likely audiences and uses of the typeface: Audiences include the average American book reader, a wide range of ages (good for all ages), and business people. Uses includes the body text for long print documents including books and reports and anything set in the default typeface on MS Word for years. Not the best web typeface for body text. Not recommended for résumés or business cards, as too many use this typeface and the point of a résumé or business card is to stick out and not blend in.


[1] info widely available, see for example “Times Roman

[2] See

[3] X-heights: the height of the lowercase x compared to the uppercase letters. The higher the height of the lowercase x, the more readable the typeface. Ideally shoot for more than 50% for print and higher for online readability.

[4] Width and weight: Widths is how wide the letters in the typeface are. Weight is how heavy the typeface appears on a page the thickness of the strokes of the letters. A heavy typeface will look black and make the overall page darker, a light typeface will look lighter and make the overall page a shade of gray.

[5] Structure: how the face is built including thick/thin transitions, types of strokes, and more. If you were building the typeface out of materials, what would you use? Pipes? Fences? Thread?

[6] Legibility: the ability to make out/recognize small amounts of text such as a word or letters. Readability: the ease of reading a long body of text, such as paragraphs.

[7] Voice-over and ethos: Voice over is the voice of the typeface or the style of the typeface. What style does the typeface suggest. If the typeface could talk, what would it sound like? Is it loud? Sassy? Quite? Formal? Would it be a valley girl or a New Your City business woman? Ethos refers to the authority of the text. When would this typeface be appropriate?

[8] Contrast: For good design you want to use typefaces that contrast. Clearly distinct faces contrast and create a strong design. If the faces are similar neither will “pop” and the similarities may look like a mistake and not intentional. Good contrasts are serif typefaces and sans serif typefaces.

[9] Conflict: The opposite of contrast. Two typefaces (or other elements) that are so similar they are disturbing (they “conflict”) and not contrasting, thus creating a weak design. Example: Times New Roman & Garamond.

Typefaces of the Week Resources:

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