"Type is not like socks. One size does not fit all." -- Roger Black, former art director of the New York Times The text of this newspaper is set in a typeface called Century Old Style. The typeface was developed in 1896 for the first issue of Century magazine and is one of the first typefaces designed for a specific purpose. Until the late 1800s, most type was sold for general use to print everything from books to advertising placards. When Century magazine debuted, however, its editors sought a face that would economize on space, allowing more words on a page, and would print well using the newly developed, mechanized, high-speed printing presses of the time. Various redrawings of Century, introducing subtle changes in letter shapes and weights of strokes, have occurred in the ensuing century. The Washington Post's present version, a slightly heavier weight, was developed with the need to print on low-grade paper with aging letterpress presses. With the continuing introduction of new offset presses this year, The Post will retain the typeface for reasons of continuity and reader familiarity. But it has been redrawn to read well at a slightly smaller size and to build a better typeface "family" that includes a redesigned italic and fractions. The modified version also sets "tighter," printing more words per column inch. Our custom drawn Century Old Style has been renamed Postroman. Lest anyone complain about the slightly smaller setting, remember that the standard size for newspaper type in the 19th century was set about this size: Imagine reading this sentence by gaslight. By 1930, the average newspaper text type in the United States was growing and has become steadily larger. The size you are reading is about 9 point. One inch equals 72 points. The actual size varies, depending on where your copy was printed. See explanation in text samples below. A BETTER HEAD Giambattista Bodoni was director of the royal printing office, a sort of court printer, for the duke of Parma, Italy, from 1768 to his death in 1813. In addition to his printing duties, Bodoni was allowed a sideline -- he developed and sold type from his private foundry. Bodoni's typefaces became popular throughout Europe in his lifetime. They are marked by strong verticality and great exaggeration between the thick and thin strokes of the letter shapes. In 1818, Bodoni's widow published examples of his typefaces in a two-volume set, Manuale Tipografico, considered perhaps the finest type specimen books ever produced. Still, Bodoni type fell from favor and was seldom used for decades until a revival at the beginning of the 20 century. A Bodoni derivative produced by Morris Benton for the American Type Founders in 1911 is the model for most Bodoni type used by U.S. newspapers, including The Washington Post. The version used by The Post has been through several transitions in typesetting technology from the days of lead type to today's computer-generated characters, rendering it a collection of ill-fitted faces, often with poorly drawn letterforms. To correct this, The Post commissioned Matthew Carter, a world-renowned type designer, to redraw the headline face. The result is "Postoni" -- still a Bodoni face but with a higher "x-height." This means that the lowercase letters stand taller in proportion to the capitals, making the type appear larger without increasing its overall size. Carter also made the "weight" of capital and lowercase letters more alike. This was necessary because The Post's headline style requires that most words be capitalized and the old version showed too much light-and-dark variation. COUNTERINTUITIVE TYPE In addition to headline and text type, the newspaper uses special type styles to label sections, to differentiate between columns of opinion and news stories and to set reporters names in bylines above stories. Each task requires its own type. For instance, The Post will use a face called Didot (pronounced DEE-doe) for section nameplates, such as Metro and Sports. Didot was developed by the distinguished French printing family of that name about the time Bodoni was drawing his type in Italy. Names of columnists will be set in Giza, a very bold, Egyptian-derived style. A small initial letter set in Giza will begin the columnists' text. Bylines will be set in a contemporary Bodoni-inspired type called Filosofia. It is said that the most legible typeface is the one people read most often. The changes being made to The Post's typefaces have tried to honor this maxim by improving on those already used in the newspaper rather than introducing new ones. Old text sample (12 units wide) The left-hand column of type is set in The Post's current typeface, Century Old Style, at the current column width. The right-hand column is in the variant, Postroman and is set at the new, narrower column width that will be used to fit six columns in a smaller page size. In some editions, this comparison will not be entirely true to life, though the proportional differences will be valid. You can tell whether you have a true-to-life comparison by looking at the bottom of this page. If you see four colored dots, you have one of the new, smaller pages in which all the type has been reduced. Otherwise, you're seeing the real thing. New text sample (11 units wide) The left-hand column of type is set in The Post's current typeface, Century Old Style, at the current column width. The right-hand column is in the variant, Postroman and is set at the new, narrower column width that will be used to fit six columns in a smaller page size. In some editions, this comparison will not be entirely true to life, though the proportional differences will be valid. You can tell whether you have a true-to-life comparison by looking at the bottom of this page. If you see four colored dots, you have one of the new, smaller pages in which all the type has been reduced. Otherwise, you're seeing the real thing. New typefaces (This graphic was not available)