Typeface Review


Reviewed by Carl Crossgrove on July 11, 2007

Given the rare chance to build a comprehensive type system from scratch for a major newspaper redesign, Barnes and Schwartz met the challenge.

A slab-serif design with a large x-height, low contrast and open aperture, the Guardian superfamily (including the subfamilies Guardian Egyptian, Guardian Sans, Guardian Text Egyptian, Guardian Text Sans, and Guardian Agate) offers the designers of the newspaper a galaxy of expressive weights which most certainly fit the various editorial tones required of such a publication.

In fact, each section: review, sports, financial, editorials, all exhibit their own style, some taking advantage of the serene thin weights, some picking up the punch of the black, some utilizing the decorative feel of the italics. Sports results in 5 and 6 point, financial reports, headlines as large as 400 points, column headings in a variety of weights all retain the lively yet neutral feel of the base design.

Crisp, clean, with a sensible vertical stress, the design still exhibits warm and organic elements. The effect of the lightest slab designs is uncommon in display typography and is likely to be exploited further in the future. The editorial style and tone of the paper is less conventional than other newspapers, lending it the feel of a magazine. Whatever your opinion of that, it’s an effective way to enliven the publication and draw in the reader. The various members of the Guardian family contribute substantially to this feeling.

Schwartz has pointed out that the presses used to run this paper offer improved fidelity, even in color sections (and I can see from my copy this is true), allowing them to relinquish some of the more extreme measures newspaper types are usually subject to (overt ink traps, paring out counters, dark color). — Carl Crossgrove

Carl Crossgrove is a typeface designer with Monotype. His background in book arts, drawing, calligraphy and other hand work informs his type designs with humanism and craft. His typefaces include Biome, Beorcana, and Mundo Sans.

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