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My name is Alvaro Franca, I'm an aspiring type designer and I've been doing some research on newspaper typefaces, their specifics, needs and whatnot and came to wonder a couple of things in regards to what they used to look like and what they look like today.
What we can see today, at least here in the UK, is a tendency towards the more Swift, Guardian, Greta Text kind of face with nearly horizontal arches, shallow crotches, very open apertures, very horizontal hooks on characters like /e/ /c/ that create a certain strong horizontal continuity in blocks of text, wedge-like serifs, little contrast and very little (if at all) calligraphic influence. All the basic needs of newspapers are covered though (saving space, printing in small sizes, and in porous paper). the letterforms have narrower proportions, large x-heights and strong, sturdy details that survive to reduction.
But it used to be that newspapers would print in old style type fonts, and you had a staple in the industry in Times New Roman, which is also somewhat narrow, with sturdy details and a large x-height, but in everything else it is diferent from it's contemporary counterparts: it has quite a bit of contrast, a humanistic kind of construction, bracketed serifs, smooth arches, closed up apertures...
Is this only a matter of style and taste or is there something to gain from a legibility standpoint? Old style forms are tried and true, and the so called "contemporary serif" has been around for thirty odd years and has some threshold in that playing field aswell, I wonder which of the two is more confortable to read in a newspaper, something you ocasionaly have to read under bad light, in public transportation and other such not-so-confortable environments....
I ask because I love Swift to death and wanted your opinion on which of these kinds of faces are more legible at small sizes since I wouldn't trust just my own judgment, being as I am still a novice in these matters.
I don't know if there is any point to the discussion, it's just something that's been on the back of my mind :-)