TypeTalk: Times Roman vs Times New Roman

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TypeTalk is a regular blog on typography. Post your questions and comments by clicking on the Comments icon above. If Ilene answers your question in the blog, you’ll receive one Official Creativepro.com T-Shirt!
Q. What is the difference between Times Roman and Times New Roman, and why are both listed in my font menu? Is Times Roman the “Old” version? Please explain!
A. Stick with me — this is going to get a little complicated because we’re talking about apples to apples (Times Roman and Times New Roman) and apples to oranges (Times Roman and Times Old Roman).
The typeface referred to as Times Old Roman was the typeface used by the British newspaper, The Times, in the early 1900s. Times New Roman is the face designed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent in 1931 after Morison, a typographic consultant to The Times (and for Monotype), criticized the typography and the printing of the newspaper.
The Times Roman and Times New Roman in your font menu are variations on a theme, so to speak. Times New Roman was originally developed by Monotype for use on their typesetting equipment; newspapers of the day also used Linotype equipment, so a version of Times New Roman was developed for these typesetters by Linotype, which became known as Times Roman. These distinctions remain today; that is, the Times New Roman on your computer is a Monotype font, and Times Roman is a Linotype font. The two do have subtle differences in design and spacing, so they’re not exactly interchangeable.
Figure 1. Two versions of Times can be seen in my Mac font menu: Times (PostScript) by Linotype, and Times New Roman (OpenType) by Monotype.

To complicate things further, not every version of Times New Roman is exactly the same. For instance, while the OpenType version of Times New Roman set at 12 point is virtually identical to 12 point Times New Roman set in metal, the PostScript Windows version of Times New Roman has a shorter alphabet length. So let the user beware — of the subtle differences, that is!
Figure 2. The subtle differences in design details are circled in Linotype’s Times Roman in the top example and Monotype’s Times New Roman, below it.

Love type? Want to know more? Ilene Strizver conducts her acclaimed Gourmet Typography workshops internationally. For more information on attending one or bringing it to your company, organization, or school, go to her site, call The Type Studio at 203-227-5929, or email Ilene at [email protected] Sign up for her e-newsletter at www.thetypestudio.com. You can also follow Ilene on Facebook and Twitter.

Ilene Strizver is a noted typographic educator, author, designer and founder of The Type Studio in Westport, Connecticut. Her book, Type Rules! The designer’s guide to professional typography, is now in its 4th edition.
  • Anonymous says:

    Thanks, Irene, for an excellent and brief explanation of the differences, and for another little cache of type trivia to amaze and astound the uninitiated with the thought and care that goes into this “craftscience.”

    Bill in Atlanta

  • Anonymous says:

    I opened a file in AI wich tell me is missing TimesNewRoman, just like that ( no spaces ). I already had installed Times New Roman, what is the difference?

    Thanks

  • Anonymous says:

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  • Anonymous says:

    To me, Times New Roman is garbage, but Times Roman is perfect! The letters to compare are ‘f’, ‘R’, ‘P’ (above), ‘p’, ‘q’, etc. I hate Microsoft for having included the Monotype TNR in Windows–and made it so indispensible!

  • Rezo Kaishauri says:

    A rather striking difference can be seen in the letter “z” in the italic version: Times Roman has a swash, while Times New Roman has not.

  • Drew says:

    I love it that there is actually an answer to this question!
    Thank you Ilene.

  • Semoar Bhutea says:

    I honestly can’t tell if these other comments are serious…Who cares about the historical difference? I want to see the difference between them for maybe more than 3 letters…

  • Tony Walker says:

    Thank you for explaining that there are differencess betweenvarious Times fonts, however what I would like to know is WHY are there difference? Is it change for the sake of chage or are there technical reasons or creative reasons for the differences. Looking at the examples above (Fig 2) I can see the difference between the two number 5’s but I do have difficulty with the small letter d’s.

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