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Unafraid of Times New Roman

Jul 29, 2015

In which I save myself from the fripperies of excessive fonts.

I have a thing for Caslon. Not just because of the old printers' adage ("When in doubt, use Caslon"), but for two other reasons:

  • I love the italic ampersand and discretionary ligatures in Adobe Caslon Pro so much it makes my skin hurt to think about it, and:
  • Caslon is the font, that, in real physical form, I have the most of—several runs of metal type from the M&H Foundry in the Presidio in San Francisco, including an unusual 12-on-14 size.

When I first started deciding I needed a new website, which was, oh, about three decades ago, the only thing I thought was sorted was that, come hell or tsunami, I was going to use the hell out of Adobe Caslon Pro. Font payload be damned—I was willing to forego other bits and flair to make room in my performance budget. It was a lot of bytes, though, to get all the weights I needed (needed, see?). I was saddled with guilt.

Adobe, however, made this easier for me. They moved most of the useful weights of Adobe Caslon Pro into a higher price tier than I was willing to pay for on Typekit.

Then I found Playfair, the heading font on this site, and was irrevocably smitten. I switched horses to Google fonts. But whatever was I to do with my body text?

I spent a few hours squinting at the combinations of Playfair-Slabo, Playfair-Quattrocento, Playfair-Crimson Text, and so on. Between each test pairing the site would appear to me without web fonts, and then I realized, holy hell, Times New Roman looks perfectly fine. Good, even. What the hell was I doing?

Enjoy the lighter weight of not having to download another font that isn't any better than what you have available already on your system! I almost let myself get carried away with the fripperies and baubles of pretty custom fonts. I caught myself in time.