The Economist uses a family of typefaces designed in 1991 specifically to respond well to electronic transmission and different printing conditions in the magazine’s seven production sites around the world.
The sans-serif Officina is used for cover headlines, promos, the table of contents, infographics, jump lines, section labels and refers. Officina has a bold, strong presence, but is not too angular. It is used in a variety of sizes, colors and weights to create hierarchy. The table of contents, pictured below, demonstrates this clearly.
Readers notice the type reversed out of red first, so they know they are in the table of contents. Red type for sections then allows readers to quickly skim for sections that interest them and next skim through the stories within those publications.
Ecotype–used for body text, headlines, deckheads and the nameplate–is a version of an older Economist font redesigned for improved readability. Readability benefits the audience, as the magazine is very text-heavy. The font is bold for subheads and headlines, again guiding readers through content.
In other places, headlines awkwardly butt and compete for attention. Adjusting size or placement could improve this.
Although the typefaces themselves are appropriate, handling of the text could be improved in The Economist.
Overall, the typefaces echo the publication’s long history, without seeming stuffy or dated. They are serious enough to give the magazine an authoritative feel, but not so generic that it appears too similar to other publications.