60 years of passion for typeface –
interview with Swiss designer Christian Mengelt

Christian Mengelt was born in 1938 in St. Gallen and embarked on calligraphy as a profession almost
60 years ago in 1954. There, he discovered his passion for fonts and font designs. In addition to his job as a font designer, today he is also an instructor for graphic design. During the course of his career, Mengelt had already created numerous fonts, such as the Sinova or the most recent font, Mengelt Basel Antiqua.

Christian Mengelt created his new font Mengelt Basel Antiqua for the latest English edition of the anatomy book “De humani corpis fabrica.” He was inspired by the original print of the anatomy work, which first appeared in print in 1543 as well as the older font type of Basel Antiqua from the 15th and
16th century.

One of Mengelt’s biggest challenges, as he himself explained, was “to generate a synthesis between maintaining the integrity of the original style of the historical font and meeting the demands of a modern typeface.” Therefore his main goal was to create “an Antiqua with historical reference to the modern compositional setting technique.” He succeeded in doing that.

Please go ahead to read a persuasive interview with the designer in its entirety.

Information on the latest Mengelt Basel Antiqua can be gotten here.

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Metro Nova among the winners of the
2014 TDC Competition

Metro Nova from Toshi Omagari, a font family from the Linotype Originals Library published in 2012, received the Certificate of Excellence in Type Design at the renowned Type Directors Club competition in New York. The diverse Metro Nova is a revival of the classic Metro from William A. Dwiggins with a new look, equipped with new styles and many typographic features.

Find out more about the award-winning Metro Nova here.

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Inspired by the font for the Bell Centennial telephone directory – the new Burlingame

Burlingame, which is designed by Carl Crossgrove, assumes a special place among the Square Sans fonts. The recently published font has unique letterforms and is especially optimized for small font size on the display screen. This lends Burlingame a distinct and individual character.

In addition, there are parallels to the 1978 design of Bell Centennial of Matthew Carter. Since it was developed especially for telephone books, Bell Centennial had been optimized specifically for small
font size on thin, low-priced paper and an accelerated printing technique. This is only one among other similarities with Burlingame.

On the whole, Burlingame can be differentiated from a mass of other Square Sans owing to their typically notched strokes and cut apexes in larger font sizes – here its individuality particularly comes to the fore and is able score on that level. In addition, essentially no other type of Square Sans can be deployed to save space to the same extent in a condensed pattern and still retain legibility.

Here you will glean further details on the similarities between Burlingame with Bell Centennial.
Furthermore, Burlingame also offers a comprehensive link that provides background information, concrete examples of use and designs.

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DIN 1450 – the German standard on
legibility of texts

In many contexts, such as on public signage systems, printed forms and instruction leaflets, the legibility of the text is of absolutely paramount importance. With this in mind, the German institute for standardisation Deutsches Institut für Normung e. V. recently issued DIN 1450, a standard that sets out requirements designed to ensure the best possible level of text legibility. There are many forms of unfavourable situations in which the legibility of texts can suffer – poor weather when driving, darkness or simply documents that try to put as much information as possible together in a limited space can represent problems in this context. In the worst case scenario, a text may become unreadable or can be wrongly interpreted. Then there is also the risk that it may not be possible to distinguish between various characters, such as lowercase “i”, capital “l” or the figure “0”. DIN 1450 thus offers specific recommendations designed to eliminate such problems. For example, it provides specifications with regard to the minimum and maximum thicknesses of baselines and hairlines. Also defined are minimum sizes of text, the required letter and word spacing and sizes of margins.

Those Monotype fonts that comply with the stipulations of the standard are identified by the suffix ’1450′. The first of such fonts is Neue Frutiger 1450.

Click here to find out more about the DIN 1450 standard.

And read the corresponding article ‘Neue Frutiger 1450: one of the first fonts to conform to the new German standard on legibility of texts’.

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Hans Eduard Meier, † July 15, 2014


Hans Eduard Meier, renowned typographer and creator of Syntax, died on July 15, 2014 at the age of 92.

The Swiss Hans Eduard Meier not only made a name for himself as a typographer, calligrapher and graphic designer, but also spent decades passing on his knowledge as a lecturer at the School of Applied Arts in Zürich. Apart from the famous Syntax family, he also had another font creation under his belt that everyone would want: he created the font on the Swiss banknotes.

Hans Eduard Meier was born on December 30, 1922 in Horgen on Lake Zurich. Although drawing and painting were among his favorite pastimes as a young child, he started his educational training as a precision engineer in order to become an aircraft builder. The apprenticeship position was almost secure when an acquaintance of his father offered him a position as a typesetter. He took the position and the foundation for his later career was in place.

In weekend courses Meier improved his draftsmanship as well as furthered his education; later he took specialized classes in typography and graphics at the School of Design in Zürich. The calligraphy taught by Alfred Willimann and Rudolf Käch formed the basis of his later font designs.

After his studies, Meier worked for various studios in Paris and designed publications for UNESCO and others. An offer from his former teacher Alfred Willimann brought him back to Zürich in 1950. There he went on to teach typography, fonts and drawing until 1986, nearly for 40 years. He used his free time to work for industry, publishing houses and cultural events. He was also an author and font designer, however. For example, the first edition of his trilingual teaching book “The Development of Writing” appeared in 1959. There would be eleven editions of the book.

In 1984, he started a collaboration with the Institute for Computer Systems at the ETH in Zürich. Here, Meier used a computer to design fonts like Barbedor, Syndor, Oberon, for example, as well as the drafts for Barbetwo, Syntax Letter and Lapidar.

From 1964 Meier worked on his most famous font, “Syntax”. The motivation for the development of this font was his aversion to the designed grotesque fonts from the start of the twentieth century, such as Gill or Futura. Starting with the shapes of the Renaissance Antiqua, Meier drafted the friendly and warm letters of Syntax. Not only the contrast in the weights, but also the very slight slant in the direction of writing and the very characteristic, canted line ends lend Syntax its lively, dynamic and unmistakable character. The first three styles of Syntax appeared from Stempel AG in 1968. Two bolder styles were added by 1972. It is the last lead typeface published by Stempel AG. Syntax’s story of success started as phototypesetting font and later as a digital conversion. Over the years, the fame of the font grew to the point that it has become one of the most popular fonts ever.

Naturally, this checkered history left its mark on Syntax. In order to correct the compromises that lead and phototypesetting required of Syntax, Linotype revised the font in close collaboration with Meier, starting in 1995. They re-digitalized the font based on the original sketches. The expanded Syntax Next appeared at the turn of the century. Other styles were published – Syntax Letter, Syntax Serif and Syntax Lapidar – that expanded Syntax to an extended family and laid the foundations for the font’s success to this day.

While Hans Eduard Meier chose typography over aircraft design in his younger years, he remained fascinated with flying throughout his life. A near-accident and later a lack of money prevented him from getting his own pilot’s license. However, Meier did fly over the Swiss mountains for hours at a time as passenger in high-performance sailplanes. And perhaps it was during one of these flights that he had the idea of comparing the type face of Syntax to a field full of flowers.

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The advantages of large font family groups
in web design

We are currently publishing a series of articles on Linotype.com on the subject of web fonts (go to ‘Web fonts tutorial’). These appear monthly and are packed with information, ideas and advice. We recently uploaded an article that explains the advantages of large font families when it comes to web design.

A typeface super family or family group is a family of fonts that incorporates different styles, such as serif and sans serif variants. The main advantage of a super family is the fact that all the variants are carefully coordinated so that they can readily be used in combination. This applies not only in the print context, but also carries over into web design.

Linotype.com thus describes in the article a number of typeface super families that are also available as web fonts. What are the individual effects of particular fonts and which are particularly suitable for setting headlines, subheadlines and body text? Linotype.com provides you with an introduction to family groups such as Mantika, ITC Officina, Satero, Aptifer, Xenois, Compatil and Generis and interesting background information relating to their designs.

Click here for more information about the typeface families that are available as web fonts and their specific characteristics.

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The new Mengelt Basel Antiqua:
a modern reading font with historical references

Font Designer Christian Mengelt developed a new and fitting font for the re-edition of the historical anatomy atlas, “De humani corporis fabrica”. To do so, he researched Basel book fonts from the
16th century, when the first edition of the atlas was published.

Christian Mengelt studied carefully the font used for the original book. He extracted the significant characteristics from the font and thus created a new font with historical references that has the technical requirements of a modern text font. It was important to him that it not stray too far from the original font, however.

An example of the design principle for Mengelt Basel Antiqua is the significant left incline of the letter axes, as well as the strong curve starts and ends. These lend the font a dynamic effect.

The Mengelt Basel Antiqua is available in the Regular and Bold weights, each with a fitting Italic. The cursive demonstrates the greatest amount of deviation from the original; at the same time, however, it has the most elegance among the styles. With up to 89 languages, Mengelt Basel Antiqua covers the
pan-European W1G language area and is particularly well-suited to comprehensive, multi-lingual texts.

Find out more about the new Antiqua font Mengelt Basel Antiqua here.

Christian Mengelt published a 24-page online brochure about Mengelt Basel Antiqua, which you can read here.

To learn more about Designer Christian Mengelt, read our interview here.

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Tom Grace develops Compressed styles
for Neue Helvetica

With its 51 styles, Neue Helvetica was already well prepared for practically any design challenge. Equipped with these styles, the font already covers a wide spectrum of different weights and offers an endless variety of potential applications. For applications that need to save space, Tom Grace has developed new Compressed styles. They are particularly narrow and are well at home in small spaces.
As with all other font styles of Neue Helvetica, the x-height does not change, despite the different weights. In this way, you can combine the various styles of Neue Helvetica together and still have a harmonious image among the various weights.
The new Compressed styles are particularly practical for companies that use Neue Helvetica for their company font. Now, they have even more variety for their image.

Find out more about the new Compressed styles for Neue Helvetica here.

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Rounded Fonts: a Look Back and Ahead
at a Typographic Trend

Everything old is new again; every trend has its revival. This is how it often seems − and usually is the case, in fact. These days, if you take a look at a lot of company logos, you’ll notice one particular trend. Well-known companies like Rewe, Otto or tegut all have it: rounded fonts.

The last noticeable peak in this rounded trend was in the 70s and 80s. Since that time, a number of rounded Grotesque variations have come about, such as ITC Souvenir, ITC Bauhaus, Pump, Blippo and ITC Benguiat Gothic. The trend of rounded shapes is also fully evident in the Serifs, however, as in the Windsor, Cooper Black or the classic König Antiqua fonts. And Balloon, Dom Casual, Wiesbaden Swing or the disputed Comic Sans prove that even the calligraphic fonts have not escaped this trend.

Well-known companies that have depended on rounded fonts for years for their branding include, for example, ZDF, with its design by Otl Aicher from 1973, car manufacturer VW, which has used a rounded font since the end of the 1970s, and the oil company Aral.

In the current age of social media, rounded fonts are popular once again. They reflect a sense of the technical, but are also soft and trustworthy, which makes them well suited to the era of the Internet. The logos of Skype and Twitter are good examples.

The rounded trend also made its mark on Monotype. Additional styles with rounded corners were added to fonts like Avenir Next, Museo Sans or DIN Next in order to adapt and expand the font options to the demand for rounded fonts.

Find out more about the trend and the applicability of rounded fonts here.

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The book “Hanzi Graphy” – a link between
Chinese and Latin script

Mario Takagi’s book “Hanzi Graphy” explores the connection between Chinese symbols – also known as hanzi – and the Latin alphabet. More precisely stated, the book attempts to create a typographic translation between the two font systems.

These days, Chinese script is still considered an exotic and mysterious form of writing, in particular to people in the West.

Fittingly, the foreword was written by Akira Kobayashi. The renowned font designer and artistic director at Monotype himself had to bridge the gap between the Latin and Asian script and can thus relate to the challenges inherent to the subject matter.

“Hanzi Graphy” is based on research that began in 2008. The goal was to create a link between the Latin and the Chinese writing systems. The book introduces the six foundations of the Chinese symbol types in a total of 224 pages. It visualizes and analyses the structure and the microtypographical aspects of Chinese characters in comparison to Latin ones.

Find out more about the book “Hanzi Graphy” by Mariko Takagi.

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