As we announced yesterday, readers will find some significant changes beginning in Saturday’s Commonwealth Journal. Our comprehensive redesign is intended to give readers an exciting, easy-to-read design that looks and feels like it belongs in a region as robust as Southcentral Kentucky.
We’ve freshened and streamlined the typography used throughout the printed paper, from headline fonts down to hairline rules. We’ve also created new signature section-front nameplates, which will add a welcome consistency of design.
Perhaps one of the most important typographic components of a newspaper is what we call “body copy"—that is the way text such as in this article you are reading is displayed. The primary role of body copy is ease of readability. So a great deal of consideration went into selecting the new body copy font face that will be revealed Saturday.
But there is more consideration than simply selecting a typeface. Other factors include the spacing between letters — or tracking, the spacing between lines — leading, and whether or not the margins will be fully justified, or printed flush left (also called “ragged right” in newspaper parlance.)
For more than a century the typical newspaper was printed with fully justified columns. However in recent years, as the price of newsprint has rapidly increased, the average newspaper has shrunk in width. While narrower newspapers are easier to handle and are more economical to produce, the column width for text has also narrowed. Ed Henninger, the national newspaper design expert retained to guide us in our redesign, related this story about his favorite way of coping with narrower columns:
“A few years ago, I mentioned to a publisher — and the VP for editorial of the group I was working with — that they should consider flush left as part of the redesign we were working on. They both argued that justified was the only acceptable way to run body text and that readers would not like the change.