DIN 1451 is a sans-serif typeface that is widely used for traffic,
administrative and technical applications.
It was defined by the German standards body DIN - Deutsches Institut
für Normung (German Institute for Standardization) in the standard
DIN 1451 -Schriften (typefaces) in 1931. Similar standards
existed for stencilled letters.
Originally designed for industrial uses, the first DIN-type fonts
were a simplified design that could be applied with limited technical
difficulty. Due to the design's legibility and uncomplicated,
unadorned design, it has become popular for general purpose use in
signage and display adaptations. Many adaptations and expansions of
the original design have been released digitally.
* 1 Overview
* 2 History
* 3 Releases
* 4 Third-party adaptations
* 5 Usage examples
* 5.1 Uses in corporate branding and media
* 6 See also
* 7 References
* 8 Further reading
* 9 External links
EARLY DIN-FETTE ENGSCHRIFT SPECIMEN. Fette
Engschrift is a
single weight of the
DIN 1451 typeface.
DIN 1451 typeface family includes both a medium (Mittelschrift)
and a condensed (Engschrift) version; an older extended version
(Breitschrift) is no longer used since the early 1980s, but may still
be encountered on older road signs in Germany.
DIN 1451 is the
typeface used on road signage in
Germany and a number of other
countries. It was also used on German car number plates from 1956,
until replaced there in January 1995 by
FE-Schrift , a typeface
especially designed to make the plates more tamper-proof and to
optimize automatic character recognition. The typeface has gained
popularity due to its wide exposure through its release as a
PostScript typeface in 1990. Since then it is also used by
non-governmental organisations and businesses. For graphic design and
desktop publishing, several type foundries offer redesigned and
extended versions of this typeface.
German road sign using both the
DIN 1451 Mittelschrift and
In 1931 the DIN institute published DIN 1451. It contained several
standard typefaces for mechanically engraved lettering,
hand-lettering, lettering stencils and printing types. These were to
be used in the areas of signage, traffic signs, wayfinding, lettering
on technical drawings and technical documentation.
The origins of
Engschrift (Condensed) for hand lettering go
back to 1905, when the Königlich Preußische Eisenbahn-Verwaltung
Royal Prussian Railway Administration ) standardized the lettering to
be used on all its rolling stock in a master drawing (pattern drawing)
known as Musterzeichnung IV 44. In 1915 the then Prussian-Hessian
Railways decided that all lettering on railway platforms and stations
had to be executed according to the 1905 master drawing as well. As a
by-product of the merger of all German railway companies into Deutsche
Reichsbahn in 1920, the Prussian railway typeface had already become a
national de facto standard before the DIN Committee of Typefaces took
up its work for
DIN 1451 a few years later. The DIN Committee of
Typefaces was headed by the Siemens engineer Ludwig Goller
(1884–1964), who also led the central standardization office at
Siemens max-width:204px"> Signs at the town of
Eisingen in Engschrift,
Mittelschrift and Breitschrift.
The design included not only the DIN "Engschrift" but also a DIN
"Mittelschrift" (medium width, now very popular. A DIN "Breitschrift"
(Extended) design was also included, but it has never been widely
In order to enable quick and easy reproduction, all drawings were
originally based on a coarse grid and could be executed with compass
and rulers. The standard sheet DIN 1451-Schriften (typefaces) was
released in 1931 as a pre-norm. With some minor changes
DIN 1451 was
officially released as a norm in 1936. In 1938 Temporary Order No. 20
DIN 1451 to be used on the new German Autobahn (motorways).
This and other similar regulations resulted in
DIN 1451 dominating
German public lettering until today. Stencilled and DIN-style
lettering on a street sign in Steinlah , a district of
In 1923 Stempel was the first type foundry that produced printing
types according to a DIN Standard. The design follows DIN 16 , an
earlier standard for oblique lettering on technical drawings which had
been released in 1919. In 1929, the Berthold type foundry released a
similar typeface. DIN 16 had also been made available as lettering
templates engraved in celluloid material for drafting use by the
company of Filler and Fiebig in
Berlin . Stencils for lettering
technical drawings to DIN standards
Within the scope of public and technical lettering the use of the DIN
1451 typefaces spread rapidly, once they were adopted. They were
released as celluloid lettering stencils for smaller applications, as
larger metal stencils for application to machinery, vehicles and
airplanes, and as cast metal lettering for street and building
signage. Printing types according to
DIN 1451 have never been produced
World War II
World War II
DIN 1451 was also adopted for the
Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia . The 1943 version of DIN 1451
also included a showing of Cyrillic characters, although their design
did not match the weight and proportions of DIN Mittelschrift.
Geometric sans serif lettering and typefaces were very popular in the
1920s and 1930s. At the
Bauhaus the design of lettering on coarse
grids was advocated by
Herbert Bayer and
Joost Schmidt during the
Dessau period. Although being designed in a similar way, the DIN
typefaces lacked elegance and did not take advantage from these design
Inspired by the DIN standard, a consortium of Dutch organisations
created an equivalent standard lettering, NEN 3225. Created by a
group of designers including
Jan van Krimpen , the design has no
similarity to the DIN standard: it is a humanist family with serif and
sans-serif styles. The sans-serif is similar to
Gill Sans and Johnston
and the serif on the Garalde model.
A sign in an older version of DIN Mittelschrift. Note the
different structure of the 'a' and how curved strokes do not thin as
they connect, as at the join of the 'h'.
The transferable-lettering-sheet company,
Letraset made several
variants available in the 1970s. Also the Berthold type foundry
adopted the DIN typefaces for their optomechanical phototype setting
systems such as Staromat. In 1980 the DIN typefaces were redrawn by
Adolf Gropp (1911–1996), a lettering artist from
Frankfurt . The
drawings were made on a finer grid. This enabled an exact definition
of details such as the amount of overshoot of round characters (e.g.
C, G and O) below the baseline and above the cap height . Also
characters such as S for which an accurate construction drawing had
never been made were now defined using lines and arcs for the new
cutting plotters that were to be used for the lettering on motorway
signage. A number of the glyphs were changed, in particular those for
"a", "6" and "9" as well as "t" in DIN Engschrift.
By the mid 1980s, Linotype adopted the redrawn DIN typefaces for
digital photocomposition. Together with Adobe they released it as DIN
Mittelschrift and DIN
Engschrift in 1990. Thus the typefaces became
part of the Adobe/Linotype PostScript typeface library. The use of DIN
typefaces started to appear in the work of cutting edge graphic
designers and design studios such as Uwe Loesch in Germany, Tel Design
in the Netherlands as well as David Carson and
April Greiman in the
USA. Soon other leading designers began using DIN Mittelschrift and
Engschrift, making it a popular option to other sans serif faces.
Albert-Jan Pool , author of one of the most famous adaptations
FF DIN , speaking about the design's history.
With the popularity of the DIN fonts, with their minimal, modern
design, several designers and companies have released their own
interpretations and adaptations, often adding new weights such as
light or extra-bold, and italics, causing a range of digital
interpretations to exist.
One of the most famous and best-selling digitisations of DIN is FF
DIN (1995), created by Dutch typeface designer
Albert-Jan Pool for
FontFont . Typographica editor Stephen Coles has particularly
praised it for the quality of its hinting for onscreen display. Users
New York City Ballet ,
ETH Zurich ,
The Verge and the film
The Wolf of Wall Street . Unlike the original design, it uses
conventional weight names.
As the original DIN design is out of copyright, other companies have
offered digital releases (or obtained rights to resell Linotype's).
Parachute (Latin, Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek), Elsner+Flake, Paratype
(with Cyrillic characters) and others have issued revivals of some DIN
styles, often upgraded with additional weights. Fontsite renamed its
release 'Fette 1451'. Samples of various versions of lettering
of DIN and related styles in digital format, mostly by Peter Wiegel.
An extensive set of digitisations is that made by Peter Wiegel with
donations requested from users under the OFL . This includes the
regular style (Mittelschrift) in two grades for printing with less and
more ink spread, and the less well-known Breitschrift. He also
digitised the rounded DIN 16 and inclined DIN 17, using the names TGL
0-16 and 0-17, the names under which they were known in the German
Democratic Republic .
The pre-1994 German number plate format (DIN-style), no longer
issued but sometimes still in use.
USES IN CORPORATE BRANDING AND MEDIA
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GoPro corporate website
* Corporate typeface used by Hella
* Logotype of
* Logotype of Paramount Channel
* Logotype and corporate typeface of Sapient corporation
* Logotype of
* Logo of the video game Half-Life , with the "A" supplanted by the
lower case lambda symbol. Its sequel,
Half-Life 2 , uses this font in
various places as well, including HUD.
* Logo of the video game
Portal 2 .
* Early 2000s (decade) on-screen branding of
Channel 4 (British
* An adapted version, Habitat DIN, is used by Habitat (retailer)
* Corporate branding of The New West End Company (the Business
Improvement District company for
London 's West End )
* Belgian VRT news service (De Redactie) for logo and news
* Plone logo
* Dutch website DigitaalMedia.nl for logo and the news broadcasts.
* Primary font used in
Simon Fraser University documents
* Font for
Nine News for their title
* Font for
Formula One for their timing graphics from the 2010
season until the end of the 2014 season
* Font for the FIA
Formula E Championship TV graphics from the
* Used on
Test the Nation 's question graphics
* Primary font used in
York Region Transit
* On-air newscasts of most
NBC owned-and-operated stations (i.e.
WRC-TV , etc.) from 2009–2011, and again from
* On-Air typeface for
* On-Air typeface for
* Corporate font used by
Birmingham City University
* Corporate font used by Moen Faucets
* Opening titles of Dexter
* Font for many license plates throughout Europe, including older
Romania , and
older plates of
* Used as one of the interface and HUD fonts for the video game
Grand Theft Auto IV and its expansion packs.
Steven Wilson has used the font on the artwork of his
solo releases Insurgentes and
NSRGNTS RMXS , as well as The Incident
by his band Porcupine Tree.
* Used by
Measure of America , a project of the Social Science
* On-air typeface for most stations owned by Sinclair Broadcast
Group (primarily their local newscasts) and
Ring of Honor
Ring of Honor .
* On-air typeface for stations owned by
* Corporate font used by The Mutual Fund Store.
* On-air typeface for
CBS Sports and
TBS Sports from 2016–present.
* On-air typeface for C
Mad Money from May 2007 – present.
Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway
* Corporate font used by
* Corporate font used by
Rochester Regional Health
Public signage typefaces
* ^ Pool, Albert-Jan (2007). "FF DIN, the history of a contemporary
typeface". In Spiekermann, Erik ; Middendorp, Jan. Made with FontFont:
type for independent minds (1st ed. ed.). New York: Mark Batty
Publisher. pp. 66–73. ISBN 0977985040 . CS1 maint: Extra text (link
* ^ Pool, Albert-Jan . "FF DIN: Digital Block Letters" (PDF).
FontShop. Retrieved 14 December 2016.
* ^ Hardwig, Florian; Maier, Thomas. "From Lettering Guides to CNC
Plotters — A Brief History of Technical Lettering Tools".
Typotheque. Retrieved 19 July 2017.
* ^ Berry, John D. (2006). Dot-font: Talking About Fonts (1st ed.).
New York: Mark Batty Publisher. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-9772827-0-8 .
* ^ Berry, John. "dot-font: Industrial-Standard Typefaces".
Creative Pro. Retrieved 16 July 2016.
* ^ Jan Middendorp (2004). Dutch Type. 010 Publishers. pp. 298–9.
ISBN 978-90-6450-460-0 .
* ^ "
Albert-Jan Pool - Können Serifen funktional sein? (German)".
YouTube. Typographische Gesellschaft München – tgm. Retrieved 13
* ^ Jan-Pool, Albert. "Funktionale Serifen?". Design Made In
Germany (archived). Archived from the original on 6 February 2013.
Retrieved 13 February 2017.
* ^ Spiekermann, Erik . "Comments on Typophile thread". Typophile.
Archived from the original on April 10, 2009. Retrieved 13 July 2015.
* ^ "Can the typefaces we see around us on highway signs be turned
into usable fonts for general use? Sometimes". Creativepro.com.
* ^ "
FF DIN Round". Issuu.com. 2010-07-28. Retrieved 2012-10-10.
* ^ "
FF DIN in use :: A
FontFont Focus by FontShop". Dinfont.com.
* ^ Coles, Stephen. "Twitter post". Twitter. Retrieved 1 September
* ^ "
The Verge Logo and Website". Fonts In Use. 2013-11-19.
* ^ "The Wolf of Wall Street movie posters". Fonts In Use.
* ^ "Communication - Font".
ETH Zurich . Retrieved 22 January 2016.
FF DIN Pro are the corporate fonts for ETH Zurich.
* ^ "Parachute DIN". MyFonts. Parachute. Retrieved 1 September
* ^ "Fette 1451". Fontsite. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
* ^ Wiegel, Peter. "DIN Breitschrift". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
* ^ Wiegel, Peter. "Alte DIN 1451". Peter Wiegel. Retrieved 1
* ^ Wiegel, Peter. "
DIN 1451 H". Peter Wiegel. Retrieved 1
* ^ Wiegel, Peter. "TGL 0-16". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
* ^ Wiegel, Peter. "TGL 0-17". Retrieved 1 September 2015.
* The series of articles "The history of the design of a contemporary
typeface" in which
Albert-Jan Pool published many of his findings on
the history of the typefaces of
DIN 1451 is a vault of references on
this subject. The series was published in the e-magazine 'Encore',
issues 13-15, 17-18. These are direct links to the article which were
reprinted in modified form in Made with
* Industrial Archeology – DIN, the first German Corporate
* The Constructivist Connection – DIN,
Bauhaus and the New
* Siemens sets a Standard –
DIN 1451 on its way up
* DIN for All: From the Economic Miracle to Art and Vernacular
Typography – FF DIN: New at the Start
* How German is the DIN typeface? – Fahren, fahren, fahren at the
* Blackwell, Lewis. 20th Century Type. Yale University Press: 2004.
ISBN 0-300-10073-6 .
* Friedl, Friedrich, Nicholas Ott and Bernard Stein. Typography: An
Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Through History.
Black Dog ;background:none
Prohibitory traffic sign
Special regulation sign
* Dead End sign
Speed limit (by country )
Advisory speed limit
Direction, position, or indication sign
* Driver location signs
Priority to the right
Comparison of European road signs
Comparison of MUTCD-influenced traffic signs
Comparison of traffic signs in English-speaking countries
* Bosnia and Herzegovina
* Czech Republic
* Hong Kong
* New Zealand
* South Africa
* South Korea
* Sri Lanka
* United States
Traffic-light signalling and operation
Traffic light control and coordination
* Alfabeto Normale (IT )
Austria (AT )
Caractères (FR )
* Clarendon (US)
* Clearview (US / CA / ID / PH )
DIN 1451 (DE / SADC )
Drogowskaz (PL )
* Enigmatic (JP )