The Daily Orange Redesign: Flags and typefaces

The first question I generally get when talking to people about the upcoming redesign is whether or not we are changing our flag. Our current flag was based off a 1910 Daily Orange logo that Jared Novack, then Editor-in-Chief, found in 2005. Logo designer Jim Parkinson then edited the 1910 logo, creating our current flag. Jared intended for this new design to be long standing as opposed to the previously constantly changing flag.


When our initial “redesign congress” met last semester, it was unanimous that we wanted to keep the flag. We all felt that it was classic, tasteful, and fit the aesthetic style we were going for. One change we do want to make is justifying the flag to the left in order to make room for teases on the right. I also played around with stacking “The Daily” on top of “Orange,” – as I did here in our most recent feature guide – to help break up the front page. However we agreed that this took up too much real estate.

Feature guide, Sports front featuring Knockout, Feature front featuring Electra
Feature guide, Sports front featuring Knockout, Feature front featuring Electra

Making a decision about keeping the flag was very straightforward compared to choosing typefaces. Our two predominant typefaces for mac heads – our term for large, punchy headlines accompanied by smaller deks – are Knockout and Electra. We tend to use Electra for feature designs and Knockout for sports and news stories. The consensus was that Electra looks a little bit dated so we’d like to find a replacement. However, deciding whether or not to keep Knockout has been a point of contention.

Knockout is one of the longest standing elements of the D.O. It has a lot of weights that give our designs variety. Knockout in all caps is the perfect bold for our sports section. On the other hand, one of my dilemmas is that our current type styles lack a thin serif that I think could help give features a more magazine-like feel. However I don’t want to introduce a second sans serif typeface simply for a thin variation because it may look inconsistent.

One of the Pinterest boards created by the staff to help find type inspiration.
One of the Pinterest boards created by the staff to help find type inspiration.

Finding the all-encompassing sans serif to replace Knockout with tons of weight variation that would work in each section is challenging. I assigned my staff of six designers to look for typefaces to replace our current styles. They presented me with plenty of great options. I have been testing the typefaces by creating new section headers and I can’t seem to make a final call. I am being conscious of the fact that these styles will be around for the next 10 years so I want to make sure they aren’t too trendy. Recently I have been playing with slab serifs like Ziggurat and Clarendon. For a sans serif, Whitney, Benton and Interstate are contenders. The hardest part is making a decision and sticking with it. It’s easy to find something wrong with every typeface.

Question: Have you ever had this dilemma? How have you handled this situation?

About Lizzie Hart

is a student at Syracuse University and the presentation director at the Daily Orange.


My suggestion would be to start with just looking for one typeface—either the replacement for Electra or for Knockout. Pick whichever one is more important to the design. All things being equal, I’d start with Electra: The available Electra fonts are from the earlier days of digital type, so they’re not as flexible as more recent fonts.

Then prioritize what you need that typeface to do. From your post, it seems that you’re looking for

a) lots of variants—always a good choice when designing a publication;

b) a thin variant for the sans-serif;

c) something contemporary but not trendy—the (good) bad news is that most well-made typefaces will be;

d) typefaces that work on the web as well as in print—though you haven’t mentioned the website, you’re using Knockout and Electra there, too.

The missing ingredient to help you narrow things down further is what tone or genre might be appropriate. Do you want something sharp and crisp? Or something warmer? Would a typical modern serif (like Escrow or Miller in your Pinterest board) work, or should you go with something more unusual?

Once you have that firmed up, it will be easier to evaluate your options as tools for the job you need them to do. Once you have a few options for one typeface, go on to the other and pick something that complements it. See H&FJ’s quick but useful guide:

If you’re stuck, check out the yearly favorite typefaces from Typographica:


My quick suggestion: If you decide to keep Knockout, which is quite a nice face and has served you well, go for a serif that is clean and a bit less quirky. I’m a fan of Abril ( Benton Modern Display ( could add a more refined touch. If you still need that thin font, bring in a slab that complements Knockout. Jubilat ( has some nice thin options. Or you could try one of the hairline options of Marian ( Try the 1757, 1800, or 1812.

It might clash rather than complement your nameplate, but Condor ( is one other option that came to my head at first.

Hey Lizzie! Cool that you’re posting about the process here on SND, it’s fun to see this stuff again. I hear you on the serif issue. I always felt like Electra (and Transitional before it) weren’t as flexible as they could be.

I think it’s important to consider how you’ll be using these faces, and how new designers will be directed to work with them. I always liked knockout because it felt very “DO”, a super-defining look. Whereas Benton and Interstate feel like pretty generic newspaper fonts. Using Knockout was also like bowling with the bumpers on, it’s hard to fail.

I’d throw my vote towards keeping some similar elements form the current design (like the flag and perhaps some kind of KO or nod to KO) and finding a beautiful serif.

I’d also say to take a look at some of the older papers in the 2002 – 2005 era with Tito Bottitta’s redesign. That always felt like the best design to me. There was somthing about the way the design used simple pieces like Knockout, Transitional (and at the time sometimes Charlotte) and then created something bigger than the sum of the parts. The type and stuff aren’t so much the finished stew, but the raw ingredients.

And lastly, I’ll leave you (and SND’s readers) with something I put together the last time I was out there. All the DO flags I could find in the archives. Really cool to see all that was out there:

As I said before, you need to make a decision and move on. If you’re in journalism to obsess for long periods of time about typefaces, then you should rethink your purpose.

Also, you’re probably optimistic about the styles being around for the next 10 years.

Back to content details: The Sports front you posted here has far too many clichés: They Said It, By the Numbers, Twitter, At A Glance. That bottom strip (including the far-too-shallow basketball article) needs a revamp.

Also, why is “PULP” cut off at the bottom? That part of the page is more of a plop than a pulp.

The Knockout is so integral to the visual voice of your paper, I’d be sad to see it go. And if you think about the kind of content that you have — sports is a huge page of the coverage at just about every college paper — well, why would you take away the tool that you’ve said is perfect for Sports?

As far as the serif goes, there’s a strong argument to be made for just getting Miller and being done with it. It’s contemporary and transparent. It won’t get in the way of anything. It plays nice with Knockout. And if you’re looking for something more dramatic for your features content, the new Banner cuts would be a good add-on.

As much as it pains me, I have to agree with Robert a bit here. Don’t sweat the type choices. As long as you’re not trotting Hobo out there, you’ll be fine. Sweat the pacing, the navigation, the standing pages. In the end, you want readers to notice the fantastic photographs, illustrations and headlines that get then into the fantastic stories you’re writing. If they’re noticing the fonts, you’re doing it wrong.

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