Newspapers, Typography

Moon Touch Down

Notebook: 16 March 2018 | TYPOGRAPHY | NEWSPAPERS


Spotted in a corridor at Sheffield Hallam University – the front page of a special colour supplement from The Yorkshire Post celebrating the first moon landing in 1969. My eye was caught by the odd mix of typography. The title or ‘masthead’, Moon Touch Down, is set in a typeface called Microgramma which became a favourite with graphic designers in the late 1960s and early 70s. It’s a geometric CAPS only sans-serif but with distinctive rounded corners, and its square shape allowed for it to be set with very tight letter and line spacing as is the case here – it captures perfectly the optimistic mood of this period in history.

The headline font for First Flag on the Moon, looks rather clumsy in comparison especially with its gappy word spacing. It’s typeset in Futura Bold Condensed (Italic) which has been a popular tabloid newspaper headline font for many years (and is still used today in the ugly looking Sun newspaper).

Microgramma was designed in 1952 by Aldo Novarese and Alessandro Butti. In 1962 Novarese re-worked it, adding in a lower case alphabet and condensed versions, and it was released as a new face called Eurostile which was taken up with equal enthusiasm. The geometric and space-age characteristics of both fonts made them popular for use in science fiction films – first in Kubrik’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and then in The Andromeda Strain, Alien, Moon and others, and in the TV shows, Star Trek and Gerry Andersen’s Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlet. (You can read more about this here and here.)

Microgramma/Eurostyle on the language buttons on the space station in 2001: A Space Odyssey

For more examples of Microgramma and Eurostile in use take a look on the excellent Fonts in Use website. (I noticed that Microramma makes an appearance on the cover of a favourite record that I have in my collection – the Clash’s 10-inch EP from 1980, Black Market Clash, designed by Julian Balme and Paul Simonon and reproduced below.)

Microgramma Light in use top left on the Black Market Clash EP. (The picture is of musician and producer Don Letts at the Notting Hill Carnival in 1976. For more on Clash album cover art, follow this link)