By Melinda Bouma
A few years ago, while researching how to continue to improve the readability and beauty of the Bibles we publish, I came across this presentation that Mark Ward made to his church about Why Typography Matters. This interesting video is inspiring and affirming for many of us who love to wrestle with such matters in our daily work.
My research at the time was in preparation for the creation of a new proprietary collection of fonts, but I’ll get deeper into that conversation in another post.
Today the typeface on my mind is that for the NRSV Bible translation. This unique typeface was developed with 2K/DENMARK to serve specifically and only the NRSV translation, which has many qualities that distinguish it from other Bible translations.
If you’re like me, you didn’t know much about the NRSV Bible translation before reading this blog post today. Or perhaps you’ve always deeply loved the NRSV for the way it faithfully serves the church in personal spiritual formation, in the liturgy, and in the academy. Either way, once you see this typeface, you’ll immediately notice it’s differentiating style.
Here’s an extremely brief, high-level look at what went into developing the Zondervan NRSV Comfort Print® typeface.
Each of our Comfort Print typefaces (for the KJV, NKJV, NIV, and NRSV Bible translations) must achieve two ambitions:
- to be readable at any size and
- to be beautiful while reflecting the unique heritage and personality of that particular Bible translation.
This is why, if you explore a Bible using a Comfort Print typeface, it’ll vary from translation to translation. It’s important to preserve for the reader each version’s grand heritage and unique personality.
So, when creating the NRSV typeface, the team at 2K dove into the rich history of this translation. In seeing the deep roots extending to the American Standard Version published in 1901 (and ultimately to the King James Version before that), 2K presented a vision inspired from the type design of that turn of the century era: ornate and dramatic presentations of letter forms, based on the churches built in that time. A great example is the design inside New York City’s St. Bart’s church, as well as in the design of its website. This care for the type elements and design that goes back to the early 1900s was the inspiration for creating the new NRSV typeface. Look carefully at the NRSV letter forms and you’ll see the connection to the past, while being confident that 2K used the most modern of design principles and technologies to make this typeface as efficient as it is beautiful.
Thanks for exploring with me today. If you enjoy digging into these details and design elements, my hope is that this was as much fun for you to read as it was for me to write! If this is new territory for you, then thanks for hanging in there.
Until next time…
NRSV Bibles are published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.
Bio: Melinda Bouma serves as the publisher for Zondervan Bibles. She loves God’s Word and seeing its life-changing impact on the world. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with her husband and two young children. She enjoys running, reading, good food & good friends, and looks forward to a day when her kids let her sleep in again!
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