From the Issue: Should You Use Times New Roman?
Written by Bwog Staff
Keep your eyes open for the October issue of The Blue & White, coming soon to campus. Until then, Bwog will honor our heritage/amorous affair with our mother magazine by posting highlights of the upcoming issue online. Among the treats to look forward to: Knickerbocker Motorsports: a surprisingly gripping history, an examination of Columbia’s updated sexual assault policy, and the festive search for magic on campus. Here, contributors Matthew Schantz and Alex Jones debate the merits of Times New Roman.
Quite frankly, I don’t understand what there is to debate. Times New Roman is the definitive standard for properly written communication, and deviating from the norm is merely a lazy exercise in subversion—not to mention how dreadfully gauche it is. One simply cannot concede to the baser elements of our society, and choosing something like Cambria (or, heaven forbid, Verdana) is just not done in polite company. Times New Roman’s ubiquity and long-reigning dominance are reason enough to enforce the strictest embargo on competing modes of typographical illustration.
The finest flourishes of ink adorn every letter, rendering each beautifully-crafted word as muscular and balanced as an ancient temple facade. One does not merely type with Times New Roman; one works with the very building blocks of communication. Yet this typeface is far from garish. The serifed font is adorned, but in a humble way—like Christmas trees for poors. Whether it is placed upon a cordial country club invitation or a sharp resumé, no letter will seem out of place. So quickly would I dismiss a cover letter printed in Tahoma—to say nothing of bourgeois Helvetica!
This begs the question: when has Comic Sans ever done the world any good? What are TAs supposed to think of a literary analysis presented like a third grade birthday invitation? Aesthetics aside, some fonts betray an unsavory symbolism—what is Arial but a hammer and sickle in disguise? Cambria is naught but an unworthy usurper to the throne of the default setting (a curse upon the house of the cult of heedless, sloppy innovation at Microsoft). We make mistakes (everyone has mistaken Papyrus for quick-track class once in their lives), but could you envision any time when Wingdings or Dingbats would be appropriate fonts? Can you even seriously say “Wingdings” or “Dingbats” aloud? Computers boast an astronomical number of font options, yet the vast majority of them are completely worthless—mere placeholders to give pull down menus an illusion of depth.
Every modern, decent society necessitates stability, and such stability stems from the ineffable wisdom of our forebears, born out by the travails of time. It was no group of lowly peasants who crafted these computers and software programs, nor flippant graduate students who envisioned the unbreakable rules of collegiate paper conventions, and it likewise was no accident that they chose Times New Roman as the gold standard. And it is quite clear, I believe, that any recent transition to so-called “alternative” default fonts is the unfortunate result of misguided attempts at “hipness”—a hopeless and uninformed play at rebellion.
Those dirty, self-styled “freethinkers,” claim some sense of artistic value in variation and inconsistency. I resent this proposition. There is an indisputable beauty in uniformity, and it is impossible to take seriously the words of a Courier-coated blog. What are these freethinkers but embittered degenerates? I say those marijuana addicts demonstrate their complete lack of refined taste in their rejection of majestic Romanesque columns and beams. Times New Roman is the archetype.
Simply put, it is not only your best option for a font, but you owe it to the literate world to utilize this most finest of faces. There might be other options which some people find appropriate in certain circumstances, but those people are likely high on drugs and the circumstances are almost certainly during Burning Man or some such “festival.” Go ahead, use your creative fonts. But don’t come groveling to me when we’re all reading novels written in fingerpaint.
– Alex Jones
You’ve just started a paper and you’ve written your name in the top left corner. The cursor pulses against the blank white page. So the next step is to start writing, right? Wrong. It’s time to choose a font. Click that drop down and scroll; Untitled.docx is your oyster. Settling for plain old Times New Roman is like limiting your palate to grey before you even started painting. Did Picasso ever make a masterpiece using just one color? Did Warhol get famous by printing the same thing over and over? Take a note from the greats: switch it up.
I’m currently working on a blovel (that’s part blog, part novel to you philistines) and every character speaks in a unique font. It’s a way of physically reminding readers about the medium they’re reading, breaking character barriers, and embracing kitsch. Like, for example, the main character, Hoofheart, is an effeminate satyr. So the letters of his speech alternate between the mock-western Rosewood STD Regular and the lilting curves of Giddyup STD. By juxtaposing the bold, stiff patriarchal character of one set of letters with the light, feminine curves of the other, I’m deconstructing gender. When Queen Moonstone mocks him in front of the Space Court she uses the same combination of fonts but doesn’t alternate them. Thus, the reader sees that while Queen Moonstone’s insults are humorous she doesn’t really “get” Hoofheart. Can you do that in Times New Roman? Times No-way-man.
Helvetica had a documentary made about it. Cambria had an epoch of biological life named after it. Disney misspelled the name of a little mermaid after a certain Arial. You know what bloody corpse Times New Roman drags? The proverbial bloody corpse of The Roman Empire. Hello? Hegemony, anyone? I refuse to even acknowledge fonts that reek of imperialism. If you want to announce “I’m a boorish colonialist” without even writing your first sentence, choose Times New Roman.
When we look at the ornate hieroglyphics of the Egyptian pyramids, we marvel at how the Egyptians turned the images around them into narratives. The texture of cuneiform in which the Epic of Gilgamesh is written inspires us with awe. And in both of these languages there is no standard font—the minute errors of the scribe make every sentence unique. How will history look back on us, the cretins who always wrote in the same font? When you click the drop down font menu, you’re doing a lot more than just choosing what you want your letters to look like. You’re choosing the sort of society you want to live in and the cultural legacy you want to hand down.
We need to start building a culture that’s font-positive. Too long have typists been oppressed by the serifed dominance of Times New Roman. Any font-based expression should be acceptable. According to psychologists it’s perfectly natural to fantasize about other fonts, but with Times New Roman so deeply ingrained in our culture, we’re made to feel dirty if we prefer, say, the elegant exoticism of Papyrus. I heard about a kid that was kicked onto the street after his parents found a stack of papers written in Cooper Black hidden under his bed. Is that the sort of society we want to build? Come to think of it, the word “font” is starting to make me uncomfortable. Can we say “pictograph-preference?”
– Matthew Schantz