A comparison of New Baskerville and Times New Roman

Posted by: chrislanephoto

Tagged in: typography , typeface , type , font , comparison

chrislanephoto

Font comparison header

On my website, most people see my content wrong.The reason? Most likely, you don't have the font New Baskerville installed on your computer. I designed my website (and all of my branded materials such as business cards, letterhead, etc) with that typeface, unfortunately you probably see Times New Roman. The reason is a result of the most of the web is still only able to display certain typefaces. Unless you are a designer, you probably don't have many fonts installed beyond what was factory installed on your computer. For those that have more fonts installed, web designers can put a font hierarchy (@font_face) into their CSS code. This means if you have any of the fonts that are in the list on your computer, the site will show the first listed font you have. If you have ITC New Baskerville Std installed, it will show that font as the first choice. If you don't have that particular font it will go through the list until it gets to one you have, for most people it will be Times or Times  New Roman. That goes more into the details of web design than I meant though. What I really meant to discuss is the difference of what you (probably) see and what I want you to see. (in other words, the differences between New Baskerville and Times New Roman.) In the picture below I have a direct comparison of the uppercase letters and numbers of New Baskerville (red) and Times New Roman (Cyan at 40% opacity). Click the image for the full size (1900x1200).

Font comparison of New Baskerville vs. Times New Roman

You can see they are similar (which is exactly why I chose it as a subordinate choice for the visual font) but there are also significant differences and this doesn't even take into account the lowercase letters as you could see in my header image.

Quick History of the Two Fonts


First, a little history on each font. Baskerville was designed by John Baskerville in 1757. It is considered a Transitional typeface because it has a more vertical axis and greater contrast between the thicks and thins compared to an Old Style font such as Garamond. This was due to advances in printing technology and better papers that could take finer lines. The version that I use is a new design closely based on the original.

Times New Roman was designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent for the British newspaper The Times in 1932. It was created to better the typography of the newspaper and thus had economy of space. That means it was made so they could print more in their paper in less space.

The Differences


Remember that New Baskerville (NB) is in red and Times New Roman (TNR) is in cyan.
NB leans more toward a humanist font. That means it is much rounder and has a curving serif and base/cap height. TNR in comparison is more modern with serifs that are much straighter like machine print. The serifs and thins are also much more narrow. A serif is the name for the little feet at the bottom and top of a letter. The bracket (or curve of the serif) is also much more gradual on NB. You can see what I mean in this detail:

Font comparison As

The Q has an obvious difference in the tail, also. The NB has a much fancier, almost calligraphic, tail compared to the more modern tail of the Times New Roman Q. The axis, or angle of weight, is also noticeable here. Demonstrated by the gray line, for TNR, it is perfectly vertical whereas on NB it is

at a small angle.
Font comparison Qs

And that means...


So what does all of this actually mean, and why did I choose New Baskerville over Times New Roman? One of the biggest reasons is that NB is an older typeface that I connect closer with the Arts than the slightly more sterile look of TNR. Since my branding is that I create work with a lean to the fine arts, I made a careful selection that would give as much emphasis to the arts as possible. I also think that NB is a more pleasing typeface and actually more legible. It most cases, TNR will have to suffice, but I always prefer New Baskerville. I may, in the future, be able to display NB to anyone that visits my site, regardless of their installed fonts and I am currently looking into it, but it may be a while yet for standardization across the web to come to fruition. Hopefully you learned a bit about typefaces and the thought that goes into both their creation and selection. I am a pretty big fan of typefaces (just ask my wife!) and plan on talking about them more in the future. If you have anything to add or any comment please write it below!

 

Cheers,

Chris Lane

http://www.chrislanephoto.com

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