So long, ol’ Century. Hello, Miller Time.

600 washington post girl reading
The Washington Post,
my employer, is launching a redesign on Monday. It’s not an extreme makeover by any stretch, but it will be enough to get some readers upset, I guarantee. Already there’s been some kvetchin’ about the Sunday Magazine, which was the first to walk around in its new heels and new hairstyle. Erik Wemple of City Paper has all the analysis you need about that — the real change isn’t so much the look of the magazine as the end of an era of 8,000-word features.

Erik, ever astute, also noticed our revamped Weather page, which launched a few days early (though I wager that the type styles on it will change on Monday).

Really it’s about type. And this is a farewell. Since about 1984, Post articles in the print edition have been set in Century Old Style. For a long, long time, I considered Century Old Style to be the best way to read newspaper work. Maybe because I always wanted to work at the Post. I’ve become so used to seeing my work set in that font over the last 10 years that it’s difficult to imagine anything else.

Well, starting Monday, it will be in something else. We’re switching to a font called Miller. It’s already in use at the Sunday mag, and you see it in a lot of other magazines — I think New York magazine uses it. I like it. And, in a complete coinkydink, Tinsel is set in Miller too. (Shout out to Melissa Lotfy, who designed all the inside type for Tinsel and did a marvy job.)

I’m a font and design nerd, and my passions in that realm are unrequited. My oldest friends remember that, back in the beginning, I was into newspaper design much more than I was into newspaper reporting and writing. I’ve always sort of felt that I missed my calling.

Do I love everything about the Post redesign? No. I do like much of it, but  I think it could have been a little more daring, especially with the daily version of the Style flag. (The one they’ll be using for Sunday is much cooler — a font called Big Figgins.) I do know that it takes a couple weeks to get used to any redesign. I’m curious what people will think. I have no doubt that the redesign will be interpreted into the epic, blogospheric story of our imminent doom, etc., as told by the press critics and anyone else who can’t wait for newspapers to die.

Another thing? We’re losing “Washington Post Staff Writer” off our bylines. That also feels like a small part of some larger grief process. All we do now, it sometimes seems, is let go and look bravely ahead. Yet, in the scheme of things, I can let that small appellation go. I am still very proud to be a Washington Post staff writer, whether it says so or not.


  1. Ian Shapira on October 17, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Hank, I agree. I am ready for the changes,
    but I am also not that ready for the pile-on
    that no doubt will ensue in the blogosphere
    over our supposed demise, our lack of “Washington Post Staff Writer,”
    and whatever else people will divine from our altered font.

  2. Linda on October 18, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    I noticed the website has changed the headline capitalization — will the paper-paper do that too?

  3. Hank Stuever on October 18, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    Yes, it’s downstyle heds now. As in:
    The Eagle has landed
    instead of
    The Eagle Has Landed

  4. Jolene on October 19, 2009 at 2:13 pm

    As a reader, I kind of hate to see the “Washington Post Staff
    Writer” title go. I guess it’s not especially informative, but
    it has a lot of dignity.

    Years ago, the researchers at Bell Labs, the research arm of AT&T,
    called all the scientists on its payroll “Member of the Technical
    Staff”, which seemed similar to me. The idea was that everyone was
    a more or less equal member of a distinguished group. A shame to
    lose that.

  5. Leanne Potts on October 22, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Redesigns. Heavy sigh.

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