Times New Roman

Times New Roman
Category Serif
Classification Mixed
Designer(s) Victor Lardent
Stanley Morison
Commissioned by The Times
Foundry Monotype
Date released 1932
License Proprietary

Times New Roman is a serif typeface commissioned by the British newspaper The Times in 1931 and created by Victor Lardent in collaboration with the British branch of the printing equipment company Monotype.[1] Although no longer used by The Times, Times New Roman is still very common in book and general printing. Through distribution with Microsoft products and as a standard computer font, it has become one of the most widely used typefaces in history.

Times New Roman's creation took place through the influence of Stanley Morison of Monotype. Morison was an artistic director at Monotype, historian of printing and informal adviser to the Times, who recommended that they change typeface from the spindly and somewhat dated nineteenth-century Didone typeface previously used to a more robust, solid design, returning to traditions of printing from the eighteenth century and before.[2][3][lower-alpha 1][6][7] This matched a common trend in printing of the period.

Morison proposed an older Monotype typeface named Plantin as a basis for the design, but revisions were made to increase legibility and economy of space. In particular, contrast between strokes was enhanced to give a crisper image. The new font was drawn by Victor Lardent, an artist from the advertising department of The Times, with Morison consulting, before refinement by the experienced Monotype drawing office team. The new design made its debut in The Times on 3 October 1932.[8] After one year, the design was released for commercial sale.[9] The Times stayed with Times New Roman for 40 years, but new production techniques and the format change from broadsheet to tabloid in 2004 have caused the newspaper to switch typeface five times since 1972. However, all the new fonts have been variants of the original New Roman typeface. In commercial sale, Times New Roman became extremely successful, becoming Monotype's best-selling typeface of all in metal type.[10][11] Although Morison did not literally draw the design, his influence on its concept was sufficient that he felt that he could take credit for it as "my one effort at designing a fount".[12]

In Times New Roman's name, Roman is a reference to the regular style of a conventional serif font, or what is called its roman, the first part of the Times New Roman family to be designed.[13] (The style is called Antiqua in some countries.) Roman type has some roots in Italian (and other European) printing of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, but Times New Roman's design has no connection to Rome or to the Romans.


Times New Roman has a robust colour on the page and influences of French, Dutch and Belgian early modern and Baroque printing.[14] This style is sometimes categorised as part of the old-style of serif fonts, or as a subgenre of this the 'Dutch taste' style. Morison admired this style for its solid structure and clarity.[15][16] The design is slightly condensed, with short ascenders and descenders and a high x-height (tall lower-case letters), all effects that save space and increase clarity.

The ultimate origin of the 'Roman' (regular) style of Plantin and Times New Roman was a metal type created in the late sixteenth century by the French artisan Robert Granjon and preserved in the collection of the Plantin-Moretus Museum of Antwerp.[17][18][19] However, due to features such as its 'a' and 'e', with larger loops than in Granjon's design, its ball terminal detailing and an increased level of contrast between thick and thin strokes, it has also been compared to fonts from the late eighteenth century, the so-called 'transitional' genre.[20][21][22] Historian and sometime Monotype executive Allan Haley commented that compared to Plantin "serifs had been sharpened...contrast was increased and character curves were refined," while Lawson described Times's higher-contrast crispness as having "a sparkle [Plantin] never achieved."[23][24] (The 'a' of Plantin was already not directly sourced from Granjon's work: the sheet from the Plantin-Moretus Museum used as a specimen for Monotype to use in designing Plantin had an 'a' from the wrong font.[25]) Other changes from Plantin include a straight-sided 'M' and 'W' with three upper terminals not Plantin's four, both choices that move away from the old-style model.[26]

Times New Roman's bold has a different character to the regular, with a more condensed and more upright effect caused by making the horizontal parts of curves consistently the thinnest lines of each letter.[27] This effect is not found in sixteenth-century typefaces; it is most associated with Didone type of the early nineteenth century and with the more recent 'Ionic' style of type influenced by it that was very popular in newspapers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.[24][28][29][30] Morison described the italic as also being influenced by the typefaces created by the Didot family in the late 18th and early 19th centuries: a "rationalistic italic that owed nothing to the tradition of the sixteenth or seventeenth centuries. It has, indeed, more in common with the eighteenth century."[6][31][lower-alpha 2] Morison wrote in a personal letter of Times New Roman's mixed heritage that it "has the merit of not looking as if it had been designed by somebody in particular – Mr. Goudy for instance."[33][34][lower-alpha 3]


The development of Times New Roman was relatively involved due to the lack of a specific pre-existing model – or rather, a surfeit of possible choices. Morison wrote in a memo that he hoped for a design that would have relatively sharp serifs, matching the general design of the Times' previous font, but on a darker and more traditional basic structure. Bulked-up versions of Monotype's pre-existing but rather dainty Baskerville and Perpetua typefaces were considered for a basis, and the Ionic designs from Linotype, such as Excelsior, that were popular in newspaper printing at the time, were also examined. Morison's biographer Nicolas Barker has written that Morison's memos of the time wavered over a variety of options (and in some cases seemed to propose several or a mixture) before it was ultimately concluded that Plantin formed the best basis for a condensed font that could nonetheless be made to fill out the full size of the letter space as far as possible.[35] The sharpened serifs somewhat recall Perpetua, which had been Morison's pet project. He ultimately conceded that it was 'too basically circular' to be practical to condense in an attractive way.[35]

Monotype and The Times spent examined research on legibility of type and carried out legibility tests on proof sheets. Walter Tracy and James Moran who discussed the design's creation with Lardent in the 1960s found that Lardent himself had little memory of exactly what material Morison gave him as a specimen to use to design the typeface, but remembered working on the design from archive photographs of vintage type, which Tracy suggests might have been the same specimen of type from the Plantin-Moretus Museum that Plantin had been based on.[24][29][36][37]

Early variants


Monotype also created some caps-only 'titling' designs to match Times New Roman itself, which was intended for body text.[38] While these are not sold by Monotype in digital format, Linotype's Times Eighteen in the same style (see below) remains available and could be used as a substitute.[39]

Times Hever Titling

An elegant titling caps design, quite different to Times New Roman with a Caslon-style A (with a serif at top left of the letter, suggesting a stroke written with a quill) and old-style C and W; Tracy suggests Monotype's previous Poliphilus design as an influence. Named after Hever Castle, the home of the Times' owner Lord Astor. Designed early on, it was used by the Times for section headings.[38][40] It has not been digitised.

Times Wide (1938, series 427)

A variant intended for book printing, avoiding the slight condensation of the original Times New Roman.[41] Although it was popular in the metal type period for book printing, it was apparently never digitised.

Series 727 and 827

Monotype also produced Series 727, in which the heavier strokes of upper-case letters were made slightly thinner. This was done to produce a lighter effect in which capital letters do not stand out so much, and was particularly intended for German use, since in the German language capitals are far more common since they appear at the start of each noun. Series 827 modified some letters (notably the R) to correspond to their appearance in other typefaces popular in French printing. This production of what are now called stylistic alternates to suit national tastes was common at the time, and many alternates were also offered for Gill Sans for use in Europe.[42]


A modified 4¾ point size of Times Roman was produced by Monotype for use in printing matter requiring a very small size of type. Listed as Times Newspaper Smalls, available as either Series 333 or 335, it was also referred to by the name Claritas.[6]

Linotype releases

Some differences between Linotype's Times Roman and Monotype's Times New Roman typefaces.[43]

Despite Monotype's key role in creating Times New Roman, its rival Linotype rapidly began to offer the design. The cross-licensing was required since the Times used Linotype equipment for much of its production. Linotype referred to the design as Times or Times Roman. Monotype and Linotype have since merged, but slight differences have split the lineage of Times into two subtly different designs.

Although Times New Roman and Times are very similar, various differences developed between the versions marketed by Linotype and Monotype when the master fonts were transferred from metal to photo and digital media. For example, Linotype has slanted serifs on the capital S, while Monotype's are vertical, and Linotype has an extra serif on the number 5.[44] Most of these differences are invisible in body text at normal reading distances, or 10pts at 300 dpi. Subtle competition grew between the two foundries, as the proportions and details as well as the width metrics for their version of Times grew apart.[45] Vivid differences between the two versions do occur in the lowercase z in the italic weight (Times Linotype has a curl also followed in the STIX revival, Times New Roman is straight) and in the percent sign in all weights. (Linotype and STIX have a stroke connecting up the left-hand zero with a slash, Times New Roman does not.)

Linotype licensed its version to Xerox and then Adobe and Apple, guaranteeing its importance in digital printing by making it one of the core fonts of the PostScript page description language.[46] Microsoft's version of Times New Roman is licensed from Monotype, hence the original name. For compatibility, Monotype had to subtly redraw their design to match the widths from the Adobe/Linotype version.[47] It has been reported to have lighter capitals that were originally developed for printing German (where all nouns begin with a capital letter). Versions of Times New Roman from Monotype exist which vary from the Linotype metrics (i.e. not the same as the version for Microsoft). In addition, the original digitisation of Times New Roman omits automatic ligature insertion, which the version of Times installed with OS X has. (This results in unsightly character collisions with the system version of Times New Roman whenever the characters 'fi' are needed.)

Linotype applied for registration of the trademark name Times Roman and received registration status in 1945. In the 1980s, there was an attempt by a group of entrepreneurs to seek from Rupert Murdoch, who owned The Times, the right to use the Times Roman name; separately, a legal action was also initiated to clarify the right of Monotype to use the name in the US despite Linotype's registration. As a result of legal action, Linotype and its licensees continued to use the name Times Roman, while Monotype and its licensees used the name Times New Roman.[45]

Modern releases

Times New Roman

Monotype sells a wider range of styles and optical sizes than are offered with Windows, in order to meet the needs of newspapers which print at a range of text sizes.[6] Its current release includes Regular, Medium, Semi Bold and Bold weights with matching italics, Extra Bold, Condensed (in regular, italic and bold), Seven (for smaller text, in regular, italic, bold and bold italic) and Small Text (for very small text, in regular, italic and bold).[48] These versions include professional features such as small caps and text figures. Additional releases exist for different specific languages and character sets.

Times New Roman World

This is a version based on fonts released with Windows Vista.[49] It includes fonts in WGL character sets, Hebrew and Arabic characters. Similar to Helvetica World, Arabic in italic fonts are in roman positions.

Linotype variants

Like Monotype, Linotype released additional versions of Times for different text sizes. These include:

Other typefaces used by The Times

The Times' previous typeface from an article describing the Balfour Declaration in 1917.

From 1908 to 1932, The Times used a Didone serif font cut by Monotype, the same as or similar to Monotype Modern.[7][lower-alpha 4] The Times newspaper has commissioned various successors to Times New Roman:

During the Times New Roman period The Times also sometimes used Perpetua Titling, also from Monotype, and one of Morison's favourite type designs from his work at Monotype.[38]


Times Modern, an exaggerated and unauthorised display adaptation of Times from the phototypesetting period.

Times New Roman has been used for a wide range of newspapers around the world. In addition:

William Starling Burgess

In 1994 the printing historian Mike Parker published claims that the design of Times New Roman’s roman or regular style was based on a 1904 design of William Starling Burgess.[63] This theory remains controversial.[64][65] Parker and his friend Gerald Giampa, a Canadian printer, claimed that in 1904 Burgess created a type design for company documents at his shipyard in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and hired Lanston Monotype to issue it.[65] However, Burgess abandoned the idea and Monotype shelved the sketches, ultimately reusing them as a basis for Times New Roman. Giampa claimed that he stumbled upon original material in 1987, after he had purchased Lanston Monotype. Giampa claimed that some of the papers that had been his evidence had been lost in a flood at his house, while Parker claimed that an additional source was material in a section of the Smithsonian now closed due to asbestos contamination.[65][66] Giampa asked Parker to complete the type from the limited number of surviving letters, which was issued in June 2009 by Font Bureau under the name of 'Starling'.[65][66]

Reception to the claims was sceptical with dismissal from Morison's biographer Nicolas Barker and Luc Devroye among others; Barker suggested that the material had been fabricated in order to aid Giampa in embarrassing Monotype's British branch, while Devroye suggested that the claim had begun as a prank.[66][67][68] Monotype executive Dan Rhatigan described the theory as implausible in 2011: "I'll admit that I tend to side with the more fully documented (both in general, and in agreement with what little I can find within Monotype to support it) notion that Times New Roman was based on Plantin...I won't rule out the possibility that Starling Burgess drew up the concept first, but Occam's razor makes me doubt it."[5]

The Times Online web site credits the design to "Stanley Morrison, Victor Lardent and perhaps Starling Burgess".[69]

Designs inspired by Times New Roman

Pelham Infant
Size and spacing comparisons of the Georgia and Times New Roman typefaces.

Because of its popularity, the typeface has been influential in the subsequent development of a number of serif typefaces both before and after the start of the digital-font era. One notable example is Georgia, shown right, which has very similar stroke shapes to Times New Roman but wider serifs.

Free alternatives

Comparison between Times New Roman and Liberation Serif, showing its much squarer design.

Times Roman and Times New Roman are proprietary fonts.[75] There are some free software metric-compatible fonts used as free Times Roman and Times New Roman alternatives or used for font substitution:

Times 4-line Mathematics Series 569

This is a variant designed for printing mathematical formulae, using the 4‑line system for mathematics developed by Monotype in 1957.[85][86] This modified version of Times Roman was designed for use as part of Monotype's 4-line Mathematics system. The major changes to the Times Roman typeface itself were a reduction in the slope of italic characters to 12 degrees from 16 degrees, so as to reduce the need for kerning, and a change in the form of italic v and w so that italic v could be more easily distinguished from a Greek nu.

The 4-line system involved casting characters for 10-point Times Roman on 6-point bodies. The top of the character would overhang the slug, forming a kern which was less fragile than the normal kerns of foundry type, as it was on a slab of cast metal. This technique had been in previous use on Monotype machines, usually involving double-height matrices, to allow the automatic setting of "advertising figures" (numbers that occupy two or more lines, usually to clearly indicate a price in an advertisement set in small type). This meant that the same matrix could be used for both superscript and subscript numbers. More importantly, it allowed a variable or other item to have both a superscript and a subscript at the same time, one above the other, without inordinate difficulty.

Previously, while the Monotype system, due to its flexibility, was widely used for setting mathematical formulas, the typeface Modern Series 7 was usually used for this purpose.[87] Because of the popularity of Times Roman at the time, Monotype chose to design a variant of Times Roman suited to mathematical composition, and recut many additional characters needed for mathematics, including special symbols as well as Greek and Fraktur alphabets, to accompany the system instead of designing it around the typeface that was being used, for which characters were already available. Matrices for some 700 characters were available as part of Times Roman Series 569 when it was released in 1958, with new characters constantly being added for over a decade afterwards (thus, in 1971, 8,000 characters were included, and new ones were being added at a rate of about 5 per week).

See also


  1. The Times's previous font was a Didone/Scotch Roman design. Now little-known, the success of its replacement has led to it sometimes being called Times Old Roman in reference to its successor and a famous cover of Monotype's trade journal Monotype Recorder which presented it under this name. The Monotype Recorder of 1936 reports that it was cut by Monotype in 1908 based on 1850s typefaces cut by Miller & Richard; Monotype Modern is the same or similar.[4][5]
  2. Morison himself told Harry Carter that the italic 'owes more to Didot than dogma'.[32] This is a reference to Morison's earlier theory, tried in the development of the Perpetua project, that a more muted oblique, which simply slants the letters without switching to more handwriting-like forms as a true italic does would make a better counterpart to regular type. Generally, however, italics are preferred in normal use for serif fonts, and in Times the italic is a reasonably conventional design.
  3. Frederic Goudy, one of the leading American type designers of the period. Morison considered his very warm, organic tastes in letter design somewhat florid and self-indulgent.
  4. Monotype's article on the creation of the new type provides a side-by-side comparison of text in both typefaces.[17]
  5. Briem has written that a complicated three-way lawsuit followed in which Patel unsuccessfully claimed to have co-designed Times Millennium himself.[55]
  6. The system returned to public attention in 2004, during the Killian documents controversy, when some documents apparently from the 1970s and presenting the future U.S. president George W. Bush's somewhat chequered military service in an unfavourable light were presented by the American news network CBS. The documents were typeset in a form of Times New Roman. As the documents looked unlike most typewritten documents, having proportional spacing rather than the monospacing of almost all typewritten documents, some defenders of the documents suggested that they might have been typed using this method. It is now accepted that they were forged on a modern computer, according to digital font expert Thomas Phinney in the Linotype version of Times New Roman.[73][74]


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  28. Middendorp, Jan (2004). Dutch type. Rotterdam: 010 Publishers. p. 94. ISBN 9789064504600. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
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