“Graded” text faces such as Mercury and Chronicle come in four different versions, each designed with a particular application in mind. Here’s how to pick the right grade for your project’s medium and its content.

In selecting a grade, consider whether more than one grade might be useful: if so, the font’s Complete package offers the best value, including four grades for less than the price of two.


Most magazines printed offset will use Grade Two for text, while those printed gravure will use Grade One. For magazines that regularly knock type out of photographs or solid colors, we recommend adding a denser grade as well: for knockouts, use Grade Three for offset, and Grade Four for gravure.


Newspapers should test all four grades on their presses, and select the one that performs best. Make the most of your budget by buying the Complete package for only those computers that will be involved in press testing; later, upgrade your license for the entire organization, but for only the one grade that’s been chosen.


Book designers who use uncoated stock (and can rely on good inking) typically select Grade Two. Those who routinely run very small type, such as footnotes or captions, should consider adding Grade Three. For designers who work with a range of different stocks, the Complete package includes all four grades, offering the greatest versatility at the best value.


Catalogs printed either gravure or web offset typically choose Grade One for text, and Grade Three for knocking out of photographs or solid colors. Sheetfed catalogs usually use Grade Two for text, and Grade Four for knockouts. If underinking is a regular problem, use Grade Three for text, and Grade Four for knockouts.

Broadcast & Online

Grade Two is an all-purpose workhorse for both motion graphics and online applications. Website designers who use type extensively in small sizes may find that certain sizes (and certain color combinations) are improved by heavier grades, making the font’s Complete package especially useful in tackling complex graphic systems.


Signage programs benefit from matching the grade to the material. Grade Three’s sturdiness recommends it to the fabrication of dimensional letters; Grade One’s lightness helps reduce halation on retroreflective signs. For backlit signs, Grades Two and Four can be used in parallel to equalize the apparent weight of positive and negative type.


For paperboard packaging, Grade Two is a good choice when printing offset, and Grade One when printing flexo. For printing on slippery substrates, such as laminated stocks, polythene, or roll film, use Grade One for positive printing, and Grade Four for reversing out of solid color.


Most letterpress printers who print from photopolymer plates favor a deep impression. To compensate for ink squeeze, use Grade One, especially when printing on heavier stocks, such as those used for business cards and invitations. If you must reverse out of a solid color, use Grade Four.