The Guardian Berliner

18 September 2005

About 18 months ago the rumours went around that the Guardian was going to change its format to something called a ‘Berliner’ (there isn’t actually a paper published in that format in Berlin, but that's another matter). For those unfamiliar with the UK newspaper market it is pretty much split in two for national publications: the ‘quality’ broadsheets and the low-end tabloids. The odd one out is the Daily Mail, which is in the middle of the market in a tabloid format.

 

As time progressed from these initial rumours many things started to change in the broadsheet market: first the Independent started dual publishing in both tabloid and broadsheet formats, fairly quickly dropping the latter altogether, then the Times joined the fray by going straight to the tabloid format.

This left just the Telegraph and the Guardian publishing broadsheets. The latter was scheduled for a completely different format in 2006, and who knows what will become of the former.

But the Guardian surprised us all by rolling out its 465x320mm format on Monday – unlike the other newspapers that had changed format, it also went for a complete redesign, which included new typefaces.

Ostensibly the purpose of this sea change in the UK market is to compete for readers, or at least try to maintain their marketshare amongst a declining readership. It seems unlikely to me that this will be achieved – I’ve always thought that newspapers distinguished themselves by their content (and design) rather than their size. But perhaps that’s a bit of a snobbish and old-fashioned point of view?

Well, whatever the purpose of these changes, let’s take a look at what they mean for Guardian readers… or at least the small percentage of us that are interested in the typographic minutiae.

Images throughout this article have been colour balanced to best match output on newsprint.

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Clive Bruton e:clive@indx.co.uk w:http://www.indx.co.uk

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