Sports Illustrated’s Big Headline

by jfjudah

I’m a reader, a writer, and a geek of sorts. So that doesn’t leave much time for sports. I can’t tell you anything about players or teams or stats or colors or rivalries. The last players I got excited about were Michael Jordan (when he played basketball) and Pete Rose (before his issues). And the best game I’ve been to was the Chicago Bulls at Charlotte. One player got thrown out, there was an overtime, and a short guy on the Hornets showed up some over–six-footers on the Bulls.

All that to say, a while ago I noticed the sweet ligature on the cover of Sports Illustrated. They solved a problem with some flair: How can we make the title as big as possible and still keep its personality? Below, an older version is first, then the newer cover.

Comparing the two covers, you can see a clear progression from the old version to the new. The basic sans was updated to an ultra-heavy spurless sans, given an outline, and given a small drop shadow down and to the right. The tracking is incredibly tight, as are the counters and curves. They kept the short ascenders and descenders, even cutting off the p more than it was before. It looks like the descender of the p comes down only as much as the distance between the crossbar of the t and its cap height and the height difference between the I and l. The S feels about the same, but the t has lost the left side of its crossbar — a fantastic solution that fits the tone — and the u and a gained soft curves on the bottom left that contrasts the sharp corners on the bottom right. An r–t ligature would not have been right, but that r–a ligature is what seals the deal for me. Just perfect.