Typography: ESPN The Magazine

So I spend a ridiculous amount of time trying to figure out the different typefaces that ESPN The Magazine uses with not much luck. The one I did find that was used fairly prevalently is called Morgan Avec Bold. This typeface is used mainly for the section names, as well as in some other aspects of the recurring pages. However, in my search, I came across this quote form one of the Artistic Designers for ESPN The Magazine that really stood out to me.

“Unlike other magazines that have a specific palette of typefaces to work with, we are constantly switching faces to stay fresh. So it’s not uncommon to have every feature in our well have it’s own distinct typeface,” AD Lou Vega said in a 2009 interview with Nonslick. “Part of the fun is tracking down a new typeface that fits with the story. If I had to name a typeface I’ve recently purchased and love using is Quanta and Composite. And no typeface is off limits.”

After reading that, I went back through my most recent issue of the magazine, and sure enough, each feature had a different typeface that was used for the header. I love this approach. It really gives a different vibe to each story, and makes it it’s own unique thing. This is a great example of why of love ESPN The Magazine, and often find myself flipping through it rather than my Sports Illustrated issue. For the purposes of the assignment, there is just no continuity that I can grasp – at least as far as the headlines go. Some are big. Some are smaller. Some have serifs. Some are sans serif. It’s a delicious mixture of elements.

In regards to the body copy, thought they probably don’t go through as many typeface options issue to issue as they do with the headlines, they definitely switch up the flavor. A lot of the smaller sections seemed to use a sans serif body copy, while the longer features had body copy with serifs. To me, the sans serif body copy basically signifies a quick read section that is trying to look clean, while the serif body copy shows that a longer, more in-depth read is coming up.

Overall, I think what ESPN is doing is working. Sometimes I feel like I should reach for Sports Illustrated to look more mature or something, but on the other hand, ESPN The Magazine is just a lot of fun. There is enough consistency that I know where to look for things each issue and I don’t get annoyed with changes, but there is also so much stuff that changes, that I’m always excited to see what’s new.


One Comment

  1. Interesting approach to type. … Raygun used to do that—made a name for themselves doing it, in fact. Still, having no palette is not widely considered a wise move. I think one reason it works for ESPN is that it has otherwise a very recognizable format and nameplate. Plus, its audience is of the game-playing ilk. … While I understand it’s appeal, I’d like to caution you against doing this for your Caz publication as it would greatly diminish its visual identity and make it too difficult for a reader to navigate a more traditional news publication.

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