Redesigning the Pennsylvania Independent

editor's picture

Hello everybody! My name is Taylor Buley -- I'm an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania and editor of the Pennsylvania Independent. I've got a pretty cool project that I'm currently working on and wanted to get you guys in on.

A little while back, due to copyright restrictions on our masthead we were forced to change our banner. We went for the more modern look you can see at the top of our website and in the PDF issue. We tried to compliment the modernity by raising the photos and giving them drop shadows.

We want to continue the modernization process by choosing and establishing a new font for the header, the byline and the text of the paper.

Our only competition is the school sponsored rag -- whose been recieving school funding since 1879 and hasn't updated their style since. We already have better journalism, so I want to compliment our work with a fantastic canvas to print on.

So I'm turning it over to you guys. Are there fonts you think would work well? We have little to no budget, so freeware is preferred; but cheap files can be considered. There's so much that needs work that I'm sure you all will have some good suggestions. Thanks!


david h's picture

> We have little to no budget....

Adobe Type Classic (special pricing for education):

Nick Shinn's picture

The most important thing you can do is to fine-tune the typography of your text type.
The variables are :
-column width
-type size
-H&J setting
Notice that I haven't mentioned choice of font.
Anyway, experiment by doing test settings of the same piece of text, varying these typographic parameters slightly against one another, until you have a setting you're happy with.

dave bailey's picture

Hire one of us Drexel Graphic Design majors to do it for you....haha only kidding. I won't even get into that whole relationship. I would definitely listen to what Nick Shinn has said. Even if you go out an buy the 'best' two or complimentary typefaces they'll be nothing if you don't learn how to use them correctly.

I'm also not sure how giving your photos drop shadows makes your paper more modern? Go out and study as many instances of magazines/newspapers as you can. You can then start finding what you like and what works and work it into your own publication.

Good luck!

editor's picture

I need a good sans serif for the headlines and a serif for the body...

dan_reynolds's picture

Well that narrows it down…

Stefan H's picture

See if you find anything worth trying at MAC Rhino Fonts

Alessandro Segalini's picture

My advice is exactly Mr. Shinn's post.

Typografonterelli's picture

I suggest that there should be some type of heirarchy in the type.

Make the Newspaper Name bigger (solution) Condense type.
A display typeface should stand out.

30 - 50% bigger!

Okay I'll provide you a link to an example soon 30mins from now.

okay the headlines should have a similar size in type. (smaller than the name of the newspaper. UNLESS, you want to use type as an image for style. LIKE, "9/11" or "BLACKOUT"

the text-type or body type should be 8pts - 12pts depending on your audience with dim eyesight (san-serif) franklin gothic, trade gothic, news gothic to name a few.

Another suggestion. Perhaps you paper can be abbrev. call "PI"

with a logo created.

Pennsylvanic Independent may be white type on black backeground as a masthead, just to throw in some ideas.

Hope it's helpful!

Typografonterelli's picture

Oh. Recreate a Grid.

Include whitespace for inviting experience.

some Glyphs or pictoral icons may help.

Remember the user or reader have thumbs. So alot a thumb space around your paper please. my thumbspace is 1.3 to 1.5 inch in lenght. (just another thought!

Nick Shinn's picture

If you are using Adobe software for page layout, you may already have some suitable fonts bundled with that software. I don't recall whether Utopia is ever bundled, but it is probably Adobe's best "news text" face.

Can you give us a list of the fonts you have licensed and available? -- we may be able to suggest which would be most suitable to work with.

editor's picture

Alright, I've done my research. Some things I've learned that we'll be using in issue three:

- the value of small capitals, and lower-case numbers
- justified text optimizes space and brings with it a more formal feel
- serif text fonts are dramatically easier to read
- headlines set in all caps are significantly harder to read than mixed case
- a single, consistantly used graphic as a bullet can make it sexy
- always hang paragraphs with bullets
- no more than two typefaces on the page
- one font pt. is exactly 1/72"
- w/justified columns, never allow letter spacing to vary; eliminate gaps and rivers
- never underline text; apparently it's a style leftover from typewriters that didn't have italics
- generally, a line should have 55-60 characters, or 9 to 10 words for optimal readibility

Questions I still have:

- can quark automatically fix ligature combinations?
- can it replace true quotation marks with curly quotes?
- what is a good leading height?
- does quark do kearning?
- what could I do better with the column width? Go to 5 column?
- type size: with a college audience, is 12 pt. too big?
- tracking.. what is this?
- H&J setting.. what is this?

Typografonterelli's picture

Sample logo (created a display type with illustrator)

editor's picture

That logo is cool as hell. Now how do I go about doing it myself? Or getting a copy?

seventy7's picture

everyone has given you great suggestions on this forum. For research, i suggest you look at:

robsayshowdy's picture

Editor: College Front Page forums would be a good start. A few of us Newspaper editors hang around there.

VisualEditors is another place to get input and help. Lots of friendlies. (


Typografonterelli's picture

Taylor, give me you email address please.

timd's picture

- can quark automatically fix ligature combinations? – only fi and fl in Preferences>Print Layout>Character is an option button
- can it replace true quotation marks with curly quotes? – yes in Preferences>Application>Interactive is an option button for smart quotes

You can alternatively use find/change for these, also use it if you are receiving copy with double word spacing, replace space-hyphen-space with space-endash-space or emdash with no space, double hard returns, there is a thread.

- what is a good leading height? – really depends on the font, size and measure
- does quark do kerning? – yes
- what could I do better with the column width? Go to 5 column? – only if the measure and the font will support this
- type size: with a college audience, is 12 pt. too big? – some students are going to be visually impaired so you should cater for them but here again it depends on the font choice
- tracking.. what is this? – wheras kerning is inter letter spacing, tracking is spacing a whole line or word
- H&J setting.. what is this? – this is a preference in Quark under the edit drop down menu that allows you to specify the limits of tracking that is applied and the number of hyphens allowed per paragraph there are threads about the optimum settings on Typophile this is only one of them

Hope this helps with some of your questions

javi2307's picture

I'm sorry to say I disagree with you Editor. I think Typografonterelli option is dated before its even been put in use. Your current existing masthead is stronger.

Here is an example of a very well know newspaper in the UK that has reciently launched a new format and masthead I think very successfully:

editor's picture

editor (at)

timd's picture

That is nice, but is not really a nameplate, your existing nameplate is much stronger, as Javier said. I would look at separating it from the text, giving it plenty of space, however I would suggest that, as you have identified, your basic page layout is the area that needs the attention rather than the nameplate.
The Guardian has recently been awarded for its redesign


robsayshowdy's picture

Editor. Maybe we should take a different approach. Try focusing on overall identity, not just a fancy graphic-nameplate. (Just my opinion) Get these books if you do not already own them! They will help you.

Contemporary Newspaper Design - John Berry/Roger Black
The Newspaper Designer's Handbook - Tim Harrower
Any SND compilation work

If you want to check out other college newspapers, and get an exchange, check out:

The Ball State Daily News
The Indiana Daily Student
The Daily Nebraskan
The Daily Orange
The Daily Tar Heel
The Missourian

The Daily Pennsylvanian is a quality college publication — journalistically and design wise. In my opinion anyway.

Those are just a few things to try... but seriously, those and websites are very helpful.

Also, most college newspapers are a part of The College Publisher Network, so that might be a place to network as well.

A lot of college newspaper designers are very vocal and very helpful.

editor's picture

What font is that you used for headlines Fonterelli?

timd's picture

I guess a condensed clarendon?

dave bailey's picture

'fontarelli: If you're going to mock it up you might want to learn to use What you have now gives you no idea how actual text will look.

Editor: I'm going to have to agree with tim on this. You're trying to modernize to the point where it changes the entire feel of the publication, I suggest you work on the page layout before you blast into '2010' with a nameplate and feel like you've fixed it.

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