But is font choice necessarily political? It could be induced, because Times New Roman has been the default font on Microsoft Word forever.
The Indian Express prefers to stand apart. We do not use Times New Roman, the font which has been revealed to be the world’s favourite in a Twitter conversation fire-started by @Southldntabby. It turns out that fonts do not only convey communications, but also bare the soul of the communicator. A Virginia Tech study led by political messaging expert Katherine Hänschen found this month that readers identify serif fonts like Times New Roman, Garamond and Georgia as conservative, while bare-bones sans serif fonts like Arial and Helvetica are seen as liberal.
But is font choice necessarily political? It could be induced, because Times New Roman has been the default font on Microsoft Word forever. But it’s complicated, because a preference for the reliably familiar could indeed betray a conservative mindset. The clever test would be the response to fonts like the postcardware of the Danish designer Listemageren, which are fabulously ornate yet radical. Postcardware means that if you publish his fonts, you have to send a nice postcard to his daughter. It’s a radical yet conservative deal, a throwback to the barter economy. Fonts also have a role in mysterious aspects of the mind — remembering and forgetting. In 2018, the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology released San Forgetica, a font full of holes and slanted to the left, which graphologists associate with bad faith. It’s unnaturally difficult to read, and since the brain has to work harder to read it, its message is apparently remembered better. The learned refer to this phenomenon as “desirable difficulty”.
But to return to Times New Roman, which the furore is all about, it is worth noting that the London Times, which commissioned it in 1931, dropped it long ago. As The Indian Express has, too. Because the font hasn’t kept up with the times.