Custom Fonts for Prajavani

ITF helps Karnataka’s most-circulated news daily refresh its typography with custom fonts

Prajavani is Karnataka’s oldest and most widely-circulated newspaper. Founded in 1948 by K. N. Guruswamy, it has a history of politically-independent, quality reporting. For their recent redesign, Prajavani needed new typefaces. These were tailored for them by the Indian Type Foundry. The following case study describes the typographic solutions that ITF’s custom fonts provided for Prajavani.
India has a vibrant newspaper landscape; printed newspapers remain one of the most-consumed forms of media in the country. Indians read far more newspapers in their vernacular languages than in English. On both the national and the state levels, competition in the newspaper marketplace is fierce. Although it is no substitute for quality journalism, a newspaper’s design is one element can help lift an individual title above the fray, and help it grow its readership.
Many of the Kannada fonts available on the market still rely on proprietary software solutions. As such, they are limited in the amount of glyphs they can contain. OpenType fonts, built on the international Unicode standard, circumvent this problem. With the OpenType format, all of the unique conjuncts necessary for a script-sensitive and typographically-sophisticated rendering of the Kannada language can finally be included in one font file. With these new OpenType fonts, reporters and editors at the newspaper do not have to rely on special keyboard work-arounds to type in Kannada, either. Few Kannada fonts already on the market include multiple matching weights; related variants for text and display sizes are even more difficult to find. By commissioning custom fonts from ITF, Prajavani ensured that its fonts included licenses for its entire enterprise, as well as for all conceivable applications or uses.
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Prajavani and ITF worked together to arrive at a letter design that fit the newspaper’s brand image perfectly. ITF delivered separate font families for text sizes and display sizes that could each sustain the harsh environment of newsprint presses, while retaining Prajavani’s new typographic identity. The two families are respectively called Prajavani Text and Prajavani Headline.

Prajavani Text

Traditionally, printed Kannada-letterforms feature a distinctive amount of stroke contrast. This contrast is vertical; horizontal stokes along the top- and bottom-portions of each character are rendered heavier than vertical strokes. The Prajavani Text fonts incorporate this strongly-calligraphic feeling. The typeface is neutral enough not to call attention to itself, while still being distinctive enough to set Prajavani apart from other newspapers. Letterform details have been refined for use in small sizes on newsprint, with appropriate optical corrections and subtle ink-traps. The Kannada script employs many below-the-base forms, which create complex conjuncts and require loose vertical metrics settings. Many of the conjunct forms in the Prajavani Text fonts have been simplified, in order to need less space below the baseline, allowing for more lines of text per text-block. Kannada’s horizontal stroke contrast allowed for characters in the various weights of Prajavani Text to be relatively close to one another in width. Prajavani Text has five weights, from Light to Bold. The fonts are suitable for use in large sizes as well, and in the past five years, the designers at Prajavani have used the fonts in a number of unexpected ways.

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Prajavani Headline

In order for the newspaper to have a distinct typographic identity, Prajavani needed display type with strong character; the headlines on a newspaper’s front page are often the first things to capture a reader’s attention. Prajavani Headline reverses the traditional Kannada stoke contrast to arrive at a vertically stressed, condensed typeface. The lightest weight in the Prajavani Headline is almost monolinear, while the boldest weight features a high amount of contrast. This allows the stress to subtly gradate from weight to weight, along the axis from light to bold. The condensed proportions of Prajavani Headline make it suitable for setting headlines and other larger-sized short texts. Of course, Prajavani Headline works well with the Prajavani Text fonts, even though each family has a  strong difference in stroke-contrast models. Like Prajavani Text, Prajavani Headline comes in five weights.
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We hope that Prajavani readers enjoy their newspaper’s new design. For the moment, the Prajavani Text and Prajavani Headline fonts are licensed to Prajavani exclusively. However, both families will be available for general licensing in 2017. No matter whether your publication is published in print or online, ITF can help you arrive at the solutions your typography needs. If you are looking for more information on commissioning or licensing fonts for use in your publication, please contact us.