Exchange — The New Typeface by Frere-Jones Type

Two days ago, Frere-Jones Type debuted their newest typeface, Exchange. They describe it as “earnest and forceful, compact but not crowded.”

Well, I say debuted, but really it’s more like revisited and expanded. Originally designed by Tobias Frere-Jones for the Wall Street Journal in the early-2000s, this typeface was commissioned at a time when newspaper pages were getting narrower and the printed word needed more than ever to be readable at small sizes. Designers today face that same issue with websites and mobile/smartwatch apps, making Exchange as relevant now as it was over a decade ago.

In a blog post, Frere-Jones shares the rationale and historical research behind the making of Exchange:

Exchange has a third teacher, its lesson applied much closer to the surface. For all the sneaky planning about optics and presswork, this still had to feel like the news. Above everything else, newspapers want — need — to feel credible. Politically left, right or center, a newspaper should speak in a trustworthy voice.


All of these lessons — sought out, extracted, recombined, revised, tested on the Journal’s presses, revised again — became Exchange, named for New York’s stock exchanges.

With the public release of Exchange, they’ve expanded the range of weights and overhauled everything for modern standards. The complete Exchange family includes 18 fonts — 10 standard styles and 8 MicroPlus styles. (The two styles can be directly compared on page 28 of this PDF.)

Exchange is available for purchase at Frere-Jones Type, with prices varying depending on the magnitude of the license you need. For frame of reference, the full family is $375 for desktop (1–3 computers) and web (0–50k monthly views), while a full-family license for one app is $1,500. However, you can also purchase styles individually.