Field Notes – Expresso Typography

Expresso’s typographic palette is a mix between a modern tone and a more serious tone of readability. For the most part, there is a more serious, overall tone throughout the publication. Only with the exception of a few sections that are not always included depending on a certain month’s event or more feature-like article, most of the sections have a very serious, newsy, important feeling. This particular serif typeface is very subtle but is used just in the right way to allow the reader to understand that these are important, news-worthy articles to read. The nameplate is also in a serif typeface. This was a good decision in my eyes because it mimics the type of publication they are trying to sell – first and foremost bringing to the reader important and relevant news articles.

The front page includes a lot of text but it is easy to understand what is going on and where certain articles can be found due to its typography. A sans-serif typeface is used for the promos and feature-like stories. These promos in the image above specifically have different light colored text. Some are bolded and others are not. I am guessing the designer decided that the more bolded promos were more important for the reader to see. All the other news-like stories have a serif typeface. The body text throughout the entire newspaper also has a serif typeface treatment. Within first glance of the front page, you can easily tell which articles are more “important” and are treated with more emphasis. There is a strong sense of hierarchy used, not only between the strokes used on the letters, but also it’s use of color and wide variety of rule widths.

Also, in terms of typography the color palette used throughout every issue is consistent and simple. The blue background color on the reverse of the nameplate is used throughout the publication, shown in graphics, drop caps and pull quotes. Red, the other largely used color within Expresso’s typography is used to mainly highlight the A1 and other extremely important stories. Yes, red can be tacky and is certainly the most obvious choice if you want something to stand out, but it fits with Expresso’s personality. They are trying to be straightforward and make it easy for the reader to most easily find the most important information.

The article within the Crime section (left) represents the more serious, news oriented tone witin the publication. Aside from the drop cap, the entire section uses a serif typeface. The layout of the page is very straightforward, with limited graphics, images and color, which helps to mimic the serious tone it is trying to portray. The graphically treated “114%” on the bottom left hand side and the light grey rectangular boxes are used to highlight important information in the article but are used in a very subtle, non-endearing way. The blue bar running across the top of the section and the single, large photo helps to tell the reader that this section is important.

This spread of pages (left) has a more friendly, welcoming tone to it. This may partially be due to its warm orange color and tone, but also has a completely different feeling due to its typography. This spread uses a sans-serif typeface for its headlines and drop caps. The box graphics behind the drop caps and colored background and rules lets the reader know this is not as serious an article as say the one in the crime section, but is a more “light” read. The increased number of images also helps to bring about a more inviting tone.

All of the drop caps within each issue are treated the same, with no variation except for the rare color change from Expresso’s signature blue to red. It is interesting that the drop caps are in a sans-serif, thinly stroked typeface, regardless of it’s section or typography that is around it. A headline might be in serif, but the drop cap is always sans-serif. Possibly the designer was trying to create contrast to break up all of the serious, serif typeface?

Another interesting trend I noticed is that the cartoon located on the inside page of every issue has a repeating trend of always using a sans-serif typeface with red and black writing (Above).

Lastly, in reference to all of the advertisements inside the newspaper, I am not sure this in intentional or not but I did notice that all of them look very modern and contain only sans serif typefaces.

michelepaolella