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Times New Roman. Good or bad font?

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Eric Kelsey's picture
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Joined: 3 Jun 2009 - 12:45pm
Times New Roman. Good or bad font?
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Times New Roman. Good or bad font?

Theunis de Jong's picture
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Joined: 22 Apr 2008 - 5:06pm
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☐ Good
V Bad

It looks okay-ish on screen, but in print I can clearly see its spacing is so-so and its lowercase 'e' is cramped and hangs to the left. Use Times Roman whenever possible -- in print (again), this comes out clear and very readable.

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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Are you asking about the font proper (as it seems from your wording and from the thorough answer by Theunis de Jong) or about the typeface?

Victor Curran's picture
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Joined: 31 Dec 2008 - 3:34pm
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Discussed in an earlier thread.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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It is a good typeface but it falls in that overused to death category that standard bundled and default fonts often do.

ChrisL

Juergen Weltin's picture
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Joined: 13 Jan 2006 - 6:31am
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It’s not a good typeface when you want to use its bold weight, too. Because the latter is a different style, not to mention that it is too fat. Whereas the regular weight is too delicate for small print use.

Blank's picture
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Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
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Times New Roman is a good typeface that should never have been bundled with software intended for setting a single column on letter/A4 pages.

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
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It's not the font, but how you use it that matters.

(but that's just something people with small fonts say)

Gary Lonergan's picture
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Joined: 2 Jan 2007 - 3:04pm
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Times New Roman is a very ordinary font and it suffers from having a truly ugly bold which doesn't match the roman. The capitals are too heavy and wide. (Try looking at German copy set in Times) The italic is also too wide – it probably had to match the width of the roman when it was originally drawn – and is also boring. Did I mention the bold? It is ugliness incarnate. Why this font is the mainstay of the desktop poster maker is beyond me.

If anyone wants to use a Times style typeface I suggest Times Classic by Dave Farey which is truly magnificent but possibly not commercially available yet.
(You can post me the cheque Dave)

Daniel Nisbet's picture
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Joined: 5 Oct 2009 - 7:14pm
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I don't have too many qualms about Times New Roman- but I too think it falls in the overused category. Personally, I've always tried to shy away from specifically using Times New Roman for the Times family by Linotype- I just like how it appears better.

@Gary do you have a link to Times Classic? Sounds like its worth checking out :)

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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In what context?

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
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Actually, if you want to use Times, you should use Starling. Based upon William Starling Burgess' original sketches and designed by Mike Parker of Font Bureau, it had a broad range of weights and italics, small caps and old style figures throughout. In my opinion, the search for a functional serif is over.

This is all I could find on http://Times Classic (after 5 mins).

vampiricnights's picture
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Joined: 27 Oct 2009 - 10:00am
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Personally, even the slightest tweaks, like condensing it a tad, can make Times New Roman look so much more beautiful.

Steve Peter's picture
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Joined: 8 May 2004 - 11:00am
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Based upon William Starling Burgess’ original sketches

Pardon me, but I'm on a low salt diet.

Daniel Nisbet's picture
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Joined: 5 Oct 2009 - 7:14pm
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@Christopher thats all I could find as well- didn't know if there was a place to download/purchase Classic or not.

johnnydib's picture
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Joined: 13 Oct 2008 - 11:39pm
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Good Font!?
Times New Roman is a great font with a huge glyph palette other than Greek Cyrillic Hebrew and Arabic it contains useful math symbols and true fractions (including thirds and eighths however missing fifths and sixths) and also contains glyphs for card suites, as ugly as they are in Times New Roman I think they should be included in every font!
If you add a little bit of stroke on it you can produce expensive logos.
http://www.guess.ca/Images/GuessCanada/Shop/Nav/TopNav/guessLogo.gif
I looks good on screen with the absence of anti-aliasing (unlike many of the super-awesome print typefaces but they're made to be printed so I'm not complaining). It's on virtually every computer out there and that was intended to be a good thing ;)

Bad Typeface!?
Never use Times New Roman at 12 points. (The English Teacher was wrong :D)
Minion has the same set width and the same x-height as Times New Roman at the same point size. Unless there's an extreme amount of punctuation on any given line the text will reflow the same if you make the switch to Minion.
Never Use Times New Roman in your resume.

Note: I find the Bold very handy when I'm trying to show people that Bold is not simply a stroke :)
Hey this is a lot longer than I intended.

Taichiro Takeo's picture
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Joined: 22 Sep 2009 - 3:23am
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Times New Roman is good typeface.
I think that is one of the most solid transitional typeface. Strong black serif is really cool. Super ordinary typeface. Look at Fantastic Man magazine's title (They used revived version of Times New Roman,,,though).

But, for me, Times is better than Times New Roman.
I never use Times New Roman. Always use Times.

Compare Italic 'z', on Regular and Bold. Times New Roman's family structure is not so accurate. Also it is not made from the original Stanley Morison's Times sketch faithfully.

Ingo Nito's picture
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John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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Times New Roman is a terribly overused typeface. But that isn't likely to change, and it's not just because of its availability.

Back when it was less heavily used - in 1968, for example, when a book set in Times instead of Baskerville or Imprint or Century Expanded or Number Twenty-One or Caledonia or Garamond or even Weiss Roman actually stood out from the crowd - it looked fresh and new and modern, but without being excessively or self-indulgently modern, the way a book set in Helvetica, Univers, or Optima might have seemed - it would be clear that it is a face of great beauty.

I think it's not just a good typeface, but a great typeface. Things move faster these days, so perhaps it won't last quite as long... but I think that a very apt comparison is to categorize it as the Caslon of today.

When in doubt, use Times.

(Of course, you can still show you can afford extra fonts for your computer by using Palatino for your resume instead. But if you don't have extra fonts, I would suggest that Times is to be preferred to Arial, let alone Comic Sans, for that purpose.)

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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Times looked lovely in letterpress and books. The digital versions leave something to be desired.

Like others said, if you want to use times, use Starling.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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Pretty good, I'd say. Pretty much everywhere, too, at least the system font versions.

For something ever-so-slightly different:
URW Nimbus Roman - Free or commercial? Choices, choices...
Gandhari Unicode - You can use its bold in line with the regular.
Tribun ADF - Resembles Times, but sure as Light isn't Times.
STIX fonts - If you want to set math texts in a Times.
Free Serif - Multilingual, but with that made-for-headings bold.

Richard Fink's picture
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Joined: 25 May 2009 - 10:04pm
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Times New Roman is a *necessary* typeface, like or not.
In the world of academia, the APA and MLA guidelines have made it so. Learn to love it. In the world of web, it's the default serif font for Internet Explorer and, I believe, all other browsers running in Windows, too.
No escaping.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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The choice of Times/Times New Roman as the default browser font is commonly attributed to Marc Andreessen of Mosaic fame.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Looks like "The Times, They are a Changin'"

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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Given that Mosaic used Courier, a monospaced typeface, as its default, Times Roman was an improvement.

The only other proportionally-spaced choice back then would have been Arial. This was before Georgia came along. (I think we can leave Comic Sans and Impact out of consideration, don't you?)

So the choice of Times Roman over Arial comes down to it being a serif typeface, which is generally considered more readable and legible. Thus, I would assign primary responsibility for the choice of Times Roman specifically not to Marc Andreessen, but to Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. They could have built Windows around Caledonia or Baskerville instead, had they so chosen.

But I think that Times was already so popular in the market that they really just went along with the flow as well.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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>Given that Mosaic used Courier

No, that was Times... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mosaic_(web_browser)

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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I'm speaking of the very earliest versions of Mosaic.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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Incidentally, it's amusing that in the italic, both Microsoft's Times New Roman and Nimbus Roman have a plain sloped lowercase z, like Monotype Times New Roman, while TeX Gyre Termes uses the swash version found in the Linotype version of the face. Bitstream's Dutch 801 uses a more conventional italic z, only moderately wavy at both top and bottom.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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>I'm speaking of the very earliest versions of Mosaic.

That's interesting. I started using it in 1994, so it was always Times for me. Do you have a source for the Courier claim?

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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I have a computer with Mosaic 1.1 or some such thing installed (from a collection of useful Internet programs on a CD-ROM) under Windows 3.1; I can give you a screenshot if you would like. I know, this is original research, but this isn't Wikipedia.

But it isn't really that you're doubting my word; I can't blame you for wanting to see for yourself just by clicking a link. All right, "Mighty Google-fu powers, Activate!"

http://kn.theiet.org/magazine/issues/1016/www-20-years.cfm

and scroll about a third of the way down.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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Thanks. I installed 0.6 beta from http://browsers.evolt.org/?mosaic-ncsa/windows (seems to work fine on Windows 7) and sure enough Courier is the default for all the text styles.

Interestingly the configuration file lists the fonts I remember from the Mac version, eg...

Perhaps Courier was a Windows bug?

Maybe I'll ask Chris Wilson.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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I heard back from Chris, who worked on Mosaic at the time. The Windows version matched the behavior of the Mac version, using TNR for all but the preformatted content. He speculates that perhaps there’s a problem reading the .ini file.

Matthew Butterick's picture
Joined: 28 Jul 2009 - 3:14pm
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Minion has the same set width and the same x-height as Times New Roman at the same point size. Unless there's an extreme amount of punctuation on any given line the text will reflow the same if you make the switch to Minion.

Not true.

John Savard's picture
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Joined: 23 Nov 2009 - 8:42pm
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For something a bit less radical than Starling, perhaps an alternative to Times that is more like Times done right would be Adobe's Times Ten.

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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I like Times Ten.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Who could say anything bad about Times?
That would be like dissing All Bran.
But I hope it's not your favorite food.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Times is a good typeface but now it is Time to move on.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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It's not a halo! It's a Nimbus (Serif)!

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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LOL!!!

John Savard's picture
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Nimbus Roman does seem to be quite a faithful take on Times Roman. And, as I have mentioned before, I liked Times Roman quite a bit when it was fresh and new.

But it's interesting that this particular byplay should happen just shortly after, in another discussion group in which I am a participant, I was pointed at the "Nimbo Cumulos" skit from the British comedy series "The Fast Show".

I fear that even if it is time to move on, the popularity of Times will continue for decades, possibly even ending up rivalling the endurance of Caslon. Yes, people could use Baskerville, or Garamond, or Caledonia, or Starling, or Miller... but will they find it worth the extra effort?

Nick Shinn's picture
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I liked Times Roman quite a bit when it was fresh and new.

John, I can't believe you're that ancient!

John Savard's picture
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I wasn't born yet in 1937, no. But it was still fresh and new in 1967... by which time I was old enough to notice it in David Kahn's very interesting book The Codebreakers.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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I'm afraid you're a victim of recency.
Times was released in 1933.
I would say it was most in vogue in the mid 1950s.
By the 1960s it was being used to set pulp fiction.
Helvetica and Univers were the fresh new faces then.
Sabon was published in 1967.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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I read more Times Roman while riding trolley cars in the 1950's than I care to remember.

John Savard's picture
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And yet when I look at books and magazines published in the 1950s, I see Century Expanded... and numbered Linotype faces that look sort of like Century Expanded. Maybe the odd oldstyle face such as Garamond. And Futura and its imitators every now and then.

Times Roman? In the 'Fifties? Of course, though, I'm thinking of the U.S. publishing scene. It was already in use for book publication in the United Kingdom in the 1950s, but generally in the smaller point sizes (8 or 9 point, as against 10 or 11) which did not show it off to best advantage. (I think the Focal Guide to Photography, for example, is an example of a 'Fifties use of Times.)

Could just be my memory playing tricks on me.

Briän M Zick's picture
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Joined: 8 Nov 2008 - 9:38pm
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I am old enough to remember Times New Roman all over the web in Netscape. I also remember it all over the place in the web browser on my dad's Amiga 2000.