Not Obeying the 'Times' Requirement

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R Tibs's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2005 - 11:05am
Not Obeying the 'Times' Requirement
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Practically all of the paper assignments I get in school say that the font the paper is done in must be "12 point Times". Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Times; I respect it because of its widespread use but that's precisely the reason I'm not a huge fan of it. So I've almost always shirked this rule, without being reprimanded (well, not yet). I replace Times with Adobe Garamond; I find this font well-suited for papers.

So, does anyone else get this same requirement at all? Do you ignore it like I do? If so, what do you replace Times with?

Jackie Frant's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2005 - 9:18am
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LOL - I once had to typeset the interior of a book for a publishing house - they LOVED Times Roman and didn't want to use it. So we set it in "Berling" -- LOL

J. Edward Sanchez's picture
Joined: 10 Sep 2004 - 2:47pm
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I used to replace Times New Roman with Minion MM. Never got a complaint.

Reed Reibstein's picture
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I'm too scared to do it for my strictly regulated papers, but I cringe every time I turn them in. I have a bit of typographic fun with the title page (Poetica anyone?), but that's about it for my essays. I might decide to use Lido STF now that I'm thinking about it; I can't imagine anyone noticing the change.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
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When I was in school, it was all typewriters, so we complained about prelilms (the 5-day set of exams you have to pass before you can write your dissertation).

One of my professors remarked "Prelims are puberty rites. Just pass them and get on with your life."

The same is true for the dissertation. If they require Times, use Times. Should it eventually be picked up by a press and published, you can be sure it won't be set in Times.

Richard Fink's picture
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Joined: 25 May 2009 - 10:04pm
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"However, keep in mind that few teachers actually look at the design of the paper"
In some fields of study, this is untrue. I mean, *very* untrue.
The APA guidelines specifically require either a monospace font like Courier or its equivalent, or Times or its equivalent. No exceptions.
They will even balk if the margins aren't exactly 1 inch.

There does seem to be some wiggle room on point size. The guidelines suggest 11pt but 12pt seems to raise no eyebrows and is easier to read onscreen.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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I'm sure the most common question about typography in schools and universities is "What font can make 8 pages worth of work look like 10?"

The reason for spec'ing the format and one font over another for papers, aside from universal availability and relative legibility is uniformity. 10 Pages of Minion MM will most likely contain a different number of words than ten pages of TNR.

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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In my experience many educators are moving to word-count guidelines/requirements rather than page-counts. (Maybe tired of 13/14.7 Courier typesetting?)

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Dare we reincarnate the old "Characters per pica" system of the Haberule ;-)
Character count/ word count is a piece of cake these days. Are not these stipulations ways of assuring uniformity for the University? No one ever concerned themselves about it when all there was was a typewriter to key the manuscript. I do feel that people in the visual fields (design,typography, etc..) should have the option of "designing" the thesis instead of just keying in the text since demonstration of their skills is part of the whole point of their studies. I don't think the typical engineering student or liberal arts major really cares about the typeface as much as we do here.

bowerbird intelligentleman's picture
Joined: 5 Mar 2009 - 5:27am
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dezcom said:
> Good thing Woodward and Bernstein don't share your narrow view.

do you have any evidence either of them use courier today?

or that their choice of fonts means anything significant?

because i would be very interested in seeing that evidence.

even though it would never convince _me_ to use courier...

(and no, i don't consider _my_ choice of fonts to be significant.)

-bowerbird

David Berlow's picture
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'S'kinda funny, all those years of education trying to stretch your words to the school's spec, then you get older and people complain if you write anything longer than their attention span of 140 chars.;)

Chris Lozos's picture
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"...people complain if you write anything longer than their attention span of 140 chars.;)"

Read? You expect a person to actually Read? ;-D

I was always too verbose the stay within the guidelines so I would have enjoyed fractional point sizes way back then.

John Savard's picture
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I'll have to admit that I think it's a good thing that the pages of the Washington Post aren't set in Courier.

I know that when I went to University, even though we had gotten a laser printer in, they hadn't gotten around to installing software to allow people to print with proportional spacing on it yet. So it was early for them to be changing their thesis requirements from "a 10-pitch typewriter face" to Times Roman.

Note that they also didn't expect their students to all run out and buy Selectrics. Even though many of them, by that time, might have had 8-bit computers, not all of them would have been able to afford a daisywheel printer. (Pocket calculators started coming out in my second year...)

Visually, 12-point Times Roman - especially when it's really 10 1/2 point Times Roman, or thereabouts, as seems to be the case on computers these days - is considerably smaller than Courier. I'm surprised, therefore, that 16-point Times Roman with 1 1/2 line spacing isn't what is specified, to match the old standard.

Tristan Bowersox's picture
Joined: 14 Feb 2010 - 5:46pm
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I usually use Arno because I personally find it much more readable. No one's complained so far.

I even tried out a multi-column layout for an art history paper, including pictures and captions.

Florian's picture
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Joined: 7 Dec 2009 - 4:35pm
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I would like to add an enquire to this thread about a font I just discovered. As I see it, it is – similar to Times – a transitional old style serif typeface, but I have never heard about its foundry or anybody mentioning it.

[[http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/aah-yes/pevensey/|Pevensey]] on myfonts from Aah Yes.

What would experts say about this font? It seems so complete, 21 different weights (7 roman/italics/obligue), 1200 glyphs. Yet I could not find it anywhere being mentioned.

Thanks

Chris Lozos's picture
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"do you have any evidence either of them use courier today?
or that their choice of fonts means anything significant?"

I should have known better than to feed the Troll.

OK, one time only:

In the old days of Watergate time, reporters, writers, editors did not CHOOSE a typeface. They just typed words into a machine called a typewriter which had only one font, a TYPEWRITER font. Their job was words, not the appearance of the words in print. Even later, past "The Presidents Men" era, with the advent of word processing systems communicating with printing technology systems totally in the background, their was NO font choice. They were just dumb terminals that collected ascii text and sent it along first to editors,then to automated compositors, then to out-put then to press. The Terminals used by reporters, writers, and editors had a VERY crude, by today's standards, display, as I recall, it was somewhere between 16 and 32 pixels resolution of a mono-width bitmap font with no choice of size change or width change let alone the dream of a typeface selection. Some were green pixels blasting out of a darker background with all the fuzz and halo glare you could ask from an early CRT firing photons up into your eyeballs. Some had an orangey-brown background but all were over-phosphored day-glo putrid and a drudge to read. These guys were called WORDSMITHS for a reason. They only thought, wrote, edited, collaborated, and saw WORDS (and as minimally readable as you could imagine).

I understand and forgive you because you are young and never had to work in such arcane times and conditions. You only know WYSIWYG proportional, beautiful, hinted and meticulously displayed text on hi-rez full color greyscale flat-screen Hi-Def digital real typefaces that any idiot can choose from thousands and display however thay damn well feel like they should--even if what they chose was pure ßhit.

My point is that WRITERS were WRITERS and whatever happened after they plunked that funny typewriter key and smacked a fuzzy dark smudge on a piece of paper was not their choice, or even on their mind. The minute their deadline for copy to the editor was done, the next deadline for the next day's story began. My guess is they were out having a few beers while their stories were being typeset in the composing room by the trade union guys who had to retype every letter over again.
There really was "division of Labor" then, for good or for bad. And nobody even considered typefaces who was not actually “in the biz”.

Here is a real photo of the actual Woodward and Bernstein while writing the story:

Here is a photo of one of the actual pages of their story with their own notes. Notice the red borders to aid in wordcount for copyfitting purposes:

Here is an early word processor circa 1986:

and here is Nixon's resignation:

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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For some reason, Typophile has disabled the "insert image" link so I will post the images later.

[edit]

I see they fixed the insert image issue so disregard this. The picture are now in place in the above post.

Florian's picture
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Joined: 7 Dec 2009 - 4:35pm
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Chris, I have to say you are completely right. Caring about typography is a huge distraction from the writing process, which is why the things like LaTex where invented in the first place, plus the mathematical support.

If you say, people care to much, make wrong choices "even if what they chose was pure ßhit". Well, I for one would be happy already if not TNR would be the standard "bundled and required" serif font in this world, but Times Ten. Let us see if everybody will write with Cambria in 15 years from now.

I do not think it is pretentious to want to write a text in a font that does not strain the eye as much as TNR, after all a display typeface for above 14pt.

Bones's picture
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Joined: 30 Nov 2010 - 9:55pm
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The worst writing/english teachers I ever had gave page requirements, and perhaps dictated Times 12, 1" margins all around to prevent gaming the system. The mediocre ones gave word counts. The ones that were actually worth listening to, when you asked them what the length requirement was, they'd say "Whatever length it needs to be."

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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I see it's licensed for web use. It seems to me to resemble Baskerville more than any other of the well-known typefaces.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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I've found, for some reason, that even when the Insert Image link works, sometimes it doesn't work the first time I click on it, or I have to wait a while.

In any case, it's an interesting coincidence that FB Alix, a typeface inspired by Prestige Elite/Prestige Pica, is this week's featured typeface.

Chris Lozos's picture
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"...typeface inspired by Prestige Elite/Prestige Pica, is this week's featured typeface."

Yes! It reminds me of my old graduate school days when it was all we had!

mjkerpan's picture
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School papers, as submitted for grading to professors, don't really need to look good, they just need to be easy to read and easy for the professor to make notes on. The whole layout of things is intended solely for those purposes. Personally, I think that even Times is a bit fancy for the purpose. A font like Courier is, in my mind, superior because it doesn't even PRETEND to be publication quality, but instead presents something so plain that the contents really are everything.

Florian's picture
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An other alternative for TNR is PT Serif, posted as well here: http://typophile.com/node/54614 ("Alternatives to Times New Roman" thread).

bowerbird intelligentleman's picture
Joined: 5 Mar 2009 - 5:27am
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courier screams stupidity to me.

i'd never create anything in courier.

-bowerbird

mjkerpan's picture
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I generally create one version to hand it that's set to professorial specs and another for myself which is actually supossed to look good...

Chris Lozos's picture
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"i'd never create anything in courier."

Good thing Woodward and Bernstein don't share your narrow view.

Joshua Langman's picture
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In my high school English AP class, I was rather notorious for incorporating various fonts into my papers on the grounds that they were necessary for the content, which was (usually) true. I set a paper on the Odyssey in Minion so I could use the matching Greek for quotations; I wrote a paper on i.t.a. set in a digital version of Pitman's i.t.a. type so I could include examples; and when I did an analysis of Beowulf I decided to incorporate some quotes in the original Anglo-Saxon orthography — partly because I thought them relevant, and partly so I could use the digital Beowulf font (based on the manuscript lettering; not "Beowolf"). I routinely set my papers in Minion; my teacher never noticed. I figured it was sort of my right, as she typed all her assignments and rubrics in Monotype Corsiva, artificially slanted, ALL CAPS.

John Savard's picture
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Note that Nixon's resignation is proportionally spaced. The resolution of the image is insufficient for me to determine with confidence if he used an ordinary IBM Executive typewriter, which would have had units of 1/32" for the typestyle likeliest to be used, or a Mag Card Executive, which would have used units of 1/60", and which I know the White House did end up using later.

EDIT: Found a larger image on the Web. An ordinary Executive typewriter.

John Savard's picture
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Although I think that rules are usually best obeyed, it also seems obvious to me that a rule requiring people to set their theses in Times Roman probably got written in order to tell people the old rule about using Courier or another typewriter face is now repealed, and proportional spacing, as is easily done on a laser printer, is now sought.

Thus, I think it's unfortunate that the rule is so specific. If someone finds the needs of his thesis are better served by Modern Series 7, or Caslon, or even Helvetica, it should be possible.

Craig Eliason's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2004 - 1:44pm
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As a frequent thesis advisor, I think it should be left up to the thesis advisor. :-)
(We are the ones that actually have to read these things!)

John Savard's picture
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Given that alternatives to Times for general typography are being discussed here too, I happened to come across [[http://new.myfonts.com/fonts/terminaldesign/rawlinson/|Rawlinson]] from Terminal Design.

Sebastian Kosch's picture
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I don't think the typical engineering student or liberal arts major really cares about the typeface as much as we do here.

I'd like to second that (as said engineering student). Then again, I proudly admit that I've never ever followed any ugly requirements, and it has never hurt my marks. In fact, I would like to believe that it usually improves them.

What I really don't understand is the 1-inch-margins requirement. We don't use typewriters anymore, and double-spacing even negates any environmental argument. 6½-inch lines are just terrible. A teacher once insisted on it, so I created two columns on the page. He didn't dare say a word :)

I think every student should be familiar with Butterick's awesome website.

bowerbird intelligentleman's picture
Joined: 5 Mar 2009 - 5:27am
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i shouldn't talk with people so rude they call me a "troll".
but i'm very curious. just what do you think my age is?

-bowerbird

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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I happened to come across Rawlinson from Terminal Design.

Your link to MyFonts shows a lovely typeface, but in a single weight and style.
A better link should be this:
http://www.terminaldesign.com/order/Rawlinson2/

Simon Daniels's picture
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You guys are total rebels! I bet you drive 4 miles over the speed limit too!

J. Edward Sanchez's picture
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No more than two , Si.

Well, three if I'm in a crazy mood.

Choz Cunningham's picture
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Jonathon Russell's picture
Joined: 25 Oct 2005 - 1:26am
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I teach design and the reason I require 12 pt Times for papers is page length requirements. You are actually writing a longer paper when you set in it Garamond rather than Times because of the x height. If you are going to replace a font for a paper of required length, choose one that has a larger x height than Times that you can still get away with. And I would notice the change :)

Patricia Fabricant's picture
Joined: 23 Mar 2004 - 9:40am
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I think the school "authorities" are trying to forestall papers submitted in Comic Sans, now can you blame them?

Mike Diaz's picture
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I was really bad. I turned in papers set in Arial because the X-height is huge.

Mikey :-)

Reed Reibstein's picture
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Jonathon, I know that that's the reason why some of my courses require 12 pt Times (as well as double spacing, .5 in. bottom and right margins, and 1 in. top and left margins), but it pains me to have to spoil my (hopefully) beautiful words with subpar design. I've resolved that if I ever teach, I'll let people send in their essays formatted however they want (extra points for proper leading) -- I'll just do a word count on the electronic versions.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
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I remember a metal Times that was quite beautiful. Maybe 12-point Monotype? 14-point Monotype? It did require substantial leading. Long descenders were used.

Moral. Get FontLab, or something simliar, & see what you can do. Lengthen the descenders, and maybe the ascenders a bit. Look at the contrast in the letterforms themselves, & adjust as needed. Maybe expand it just a touch. There use to be a Times Wide, but it was a bit too wide.

Be sure you start with a font where the EULA permits this, of course.

William Berkson's picture
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I know I am getting to be a broken record on this, but here goes again:

The main problem with Times on letter sized paper is that the measure is too long. And if you make it big, Times is too black. So it never looks quite right in a single column on letter sized paper.

It can work very well in small sizes and shorter measures, which is what it was originally designed for.

To make a single column setting look good on letter sized paper you need a wider font than Times and bigger than usual margins, so that you bring the measure down to near the recommended 2 1/2 lc alphabet lengths.

Linda Cunningham's picture
Joined: 26 Jul 2006 - 3:55pm
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At least Times is a proportional font: when a friend of mine was doing his Ph.D just five years ago, the requirement for his dissertation was that it be set in 12 pt. Courier. No bold allowed, underlining was encouraged, and only sparing use of italics was permitted. (I set up a suite of Word styles for him to use so he's got it right the first time.)

I'm surprised they didn't make him do it on an old typewriter and produce the machine as proof that it hadn't been done on a computer. :-(

Hank's picture
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Lido--and perhaps something like Plantin as well--are similar enough to Times to satisfy both the demand for Times, and your own desire for something different. Taking a little bit of the leading and the margins will only improve it as well without upsetting anyone. However, keep in mind that few teachers actually look at the design of the paper, so your arguments, evidence and use of language are perhaps more worthy of your time in this case.

From my own teaching and grading experience, the Times & double spacing rule is still a lot better than what most students (not design) come up with on their own. I think few teachers would actually mind typography that's an improvement over the standard rules, but what many students come up with just makes for even worse reading. Arial is not meant for 15 page-essays, and a sufficiently poor printer will make a poorly readable mess out of MT Garamond any day.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
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and a sufficiently poor printer will make a poorly readable mess out of MT Garamond any day.

. . . as will an offset press running 2400 dpi with a direct-to-plate plate. Monotype made other compromises with it's Garamond in the digital version. The ascenders & descenders are too short; the italic needs some absent ligatures (gy, zy, etc.) All fixable (if you bought it long enough ago to have an old EULA). Maybe that's part of the "Times" requirement.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Back to the original question. Is there any evidence that choosing a non-conformist font will result in better grades? I'm sure someone must have researched this? If not, my advice would be to use whichever font you find easiset to read and more importantly proof your work (maybe a well hinted screen-optimised font like Verdana or Arial), then print two copies, one in you favorite print font for your own records and one reformatted in Times.

R Tibs's picture
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I also had a suspicion that using a non-Times font (but also not Comic Sans) would result in improved grades, so it's nice to see that some other people think the same way. Like the linked article in reply 6 said, I think it's all a matter of novelty: a teacher/professor reading a hundred papers in Times New Roman will be pleased to see a paper written in a "similar" font. Of course, not Comic Sans, even though one of my teachers now favors Arial Narrow and allows us to submit papers in that font.

William Berkson's picture
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Arial Narrow??? At what size? Makes my head hurt just to think of trying to read text in it.

Courier was actually well designed to the spec of being a monospaced font that would fill a single column on letter sized paper with a good letter count at 1" - 1 1/2" margins.

There are certainly many more readable ways to go, but you can also do a lot worse.

Linda Cunningham's picture
Joined: 26 Jul 2006 - 3:55pm
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Courier was actually well designed to the spec of being a monospaced font that would fill a single column on letter sized paper with a good letter count at 1” - 1 1/2” margins.

But that was a regulation dating back to the 50s, Bill -- one might think that after the turn of the century that they could update it a little. I mean, geez, no bold but with underlining? :-( "Retro" is one thing, but that's a little much....