The Wall Street Journal commissioned this typeface for its financial tables with the goal of increasing legibility while condensing the letterforms to save space. Designed to be used at very small sizes—7-point or below—Retina departs from traditional letterforms altogether to instead provide letters that are as dissimilar from one another as possible. Retina, in the words of the designers, fills in what “human eye needs and what the brain expects” when reading very fine print. By playing up the differences between each letter, the designers have taken “its essence, the thing that makes it this letter and not something else” and amplified it. Notches, or ink traps, are cut into the glyphs to compensate for ink spread on poor-quality paper. Many newspapers now use Retina not only for stock listings but also for sports scores, classified ads, movie and TV listings, and other high-density texts.
Gallery label from Standard Deviations, 2011.