What determines which New York Times headlines are italicized?
May 3, 2013 5:28 PM   Subscribe

"There isn’t a style book for this stuff," Tom Bodkin, design director of the Times explains. "There’s no consistency."
posted by larrybob (9 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks. I love the inside baseball of the journalism world.
posted by cccorlew at 5:40 PM on May 3, 2013

There appears to be one consistent rule. You don't put an italicized headline at the top, just above roman text. It has to be roman above italic. The exception is if the italic head is full width, but the roman head is in a column that is less than full width.

Somehow I knew this from my ancient days in typesetting, I just confirmed it by looking at the examples on that page. Look at the MEN WALK ON MOON page, you can see roman heads in the two columns aside the photo. This appears to be an older style of alternating roman and italics. The newer pages don't follow this convention.
posted by charlie don't surf at 5:58 PM on May 3, 2013

What determines when the NYT puts in a grocer's apostrophe? Ie: The Highest-Paid C.E.O.’s. I think there is an NYT style book for that, it's just wrong.
posted by Nelson at 6:03 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

For Some Headlines, An Italic Setting
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 6:09 PM on May 3, 2013 [13 favorites]

Many style sheets mandate an apostrophe when making a plural from an abbreviation
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]

I hate the use of italics for pure design, rather than semantic purposes. I think italics should be used in print design only for emphasis, titles of works, and possibly to set off internal monologue or text that's otherwise special in some way. Otherwise, if you just want to differentiate multiple headlines on a page or "set a mood," go with different font sizes and weights, and/or separate fonts entirely.
posted by limeonaire at 6:26 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]

I feel like I should agree with limeonaire on this one, but that weird mixed-italic-and-upright sometimes-condensed-for-no-reason sometimes-all-caps-for-no-reason style is just what the NYT is supposed to look like, which means in my head it is the platonic ideal of what a newspaper looks like. Transports me back to the house I grew up in, since I've never had a home delivery subscription as an adult. If they ever fuck with it I'll be irrationally sad.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:22 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]

I think the italics tend to favor headlines that run like sentences, as opposed to declarations. That's OK with me, even if there are idiosyncrasies with whether it adheres to a formal hierarchy. At one point this matched a sort of theory of how people process the news, but I'm not sure that's valid anymore.

Compare this brevity to the verbiage of October 15, 1912: “Maniac in Milwaukee Shoots Col. Roosevelt; He Ignores Wound; Speaks An Hour; Goes To Hospital.” That’s practically an entire story in today’s New York Post!

No, no, the Post hed would run "Maniac in Milwaukee Kills Seventeen; Trust-Busters Believed Responsible; Plucky 'Teddy' Speaks to Commies and Anarchists; Immigrants, Socialists Find Medical Facility Full as Roosevelt Lounges in Private Room". Corrections would not be noted.
posted by dhartung at 1:06 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I thought about that, Now there are two. There are two _______. And I don't know what The New York Times would look like without that weird mix, either. And the Wall Street Journal uses italics for its decks/subheads, and I guess that looks normal for them. But yeah, it's still an odd thing, an overemphasis, I feel like, as if someone were just saying, "We have these fonts, let's use them!" Font soup is a huge pet peeve of mine.
posted by limeonaire at 7:49 AM on May 4, 2013

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