Friday, 3 December 2010

Body copy comparison - Times v Nimrod

Had a call from the Halifax Courier's Tim Robinson this week asking about body copy. Tim is a self-confessed Times New Roman junkie but was asking about accessible alternatives. "Please don't say Nimrod - to me it looks as up-to-date as the ad for Worthington E," he added. Times New Roman is OK if used properly. It has served newspapers well, commissioned specifically for The Times newspaper in 1931 (although even The Times doesn't use it any more). Times and Times New Roman have a smaller x-height than many other serifs and have thin strokes and hairlines, so has a tendency to break up if used too small on newsprint. I regularly see research which says readers find a newspaper difficult to read - and more often than not it is Times or Times New Roman used at 8.5pt or under and across too narrow a measure. As it has a small x-height you don't really need to lead it, just use it bigger. Nimrod is certainly ubiquitous and hardly at the cutting edge of design but it is functional and readable. Clarion is very similar to Nimrod. News Miller and News 701 are very readable. If economy is more important, ITC Cheltenham works well. Newspapers tend not to be awash with great off-the-shelf serifs ... some of the most stylish fonts, such as Poynter and Gulliver, can be costly. And not many newspapers are in the business of buying in new fonts these days. I put the above chart together for Tim which compares common text faces and specifically looks at Nimrod v Times New Roman. It's a jpg but if you would like a better quality PDF drop me an email on and I will send you one.


  1. It seems fashionable to use Garamond (even older than Times!) or some weird face called Melchior these days. I see no advantage in them, except that they aren't Nimrod!

    I suspect they get used by people who don't want to use the same typeface as the rest of their newspaper group but don't understand why Nimrod is used in the first place - ie, it is neat and legible and can be read in smaller sizes that can Times.

    The other reason is the one you cited at the top of your piece - it's out of date. Since when did that matter? Surely legibility is more important than fashion? Sadly, modern graphic designers aren't taught typography...but that's another story!

  2. Hi Hilary. Thanks for the comment. Garamond, once loved by The Daily Telegraph, the Western Morning News and the Darlington & Stockton Times. Had almost forgotten about it. I almost included Plantin and Georgia too. Not come across Melchior - except in the form of a Belgian beer. Will check it out.

  3. Personally Like Clarion as is bit more modern than nimrod and the bold face was cut at the same time as the roman, unlike nimrod, so the space taken by both is very similar.