Category: 

What are Meta Fonts?

Article Details
  • Written By: S.A. Keel
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 09 December 2016
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2016
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
Helium is the only element that was discovered in space before it was found on Earth.  more...

December 10 ,  1948 :  The UN adopted the Universal Declaration on Human Rights.  more...

The meta fonts are a family of typefaces with strong calligraphic features, not to be confused with the metafont programming language. The characters that make up the fonts have some variation to their line widths and are very readable. For this reason, the family of fonts is referred to as a humanist sans serif font style. The font family is frequently referred to by name of the library it belongs to, FF Meta®, and has found international acclaim among graphic designers, with extensive use as a corporate typeface.

The original design for the meta fonts came about in 1985 when the London-based Sedley Place Design firm was hired by the Deutsche Bundespost, the German Post Office, to create a complete corporate design. Part of this involved a new typeface that would serve on stamps, packaging, and fleet vehicles for identification purposes. For this reason, it needed to be highly legible at a range of sizes, easily printable on a variety of paper stock, and have distinct characters. The font's original conception and design was handled by Erik Spiekermann, who worked at the Berlin office for Sedley Place Design. The Bundespost eventually decided to forgo the use of a new font family, and so the meta fonts were temporarily abandoned.

Ad

Spiekermann, however, decided to continue work on the meta fonts through his own font foundry, FontShop International (FSI). He recreated the fonts by scanning the original outlines into a computer for reworking, and subsequently published them as part of the FontFont library. FF Meta® was released in 1991, with normal, small capitals and bold versions for the family. Within a year, an italic and bold-style small capitals set of characters was added, and the font rapidly grew in popularity throughout the rest of the decade. Ultimately, the sans serif FF Meta® family grew to nearly 50 different styles and weights, including a Cyrillic version that was released in 2001.

Throughout the 1990s, while the sans serif meta fonts were gaining in use, Spiekermann struggled to create a serif version of the font. He was often forced to recommend other typefaces that would complement FF Meta® in a single design, such as Swift™ or Minion™. Eventually, he recruited Christian Schwartz and Kris Sowersby to help with the new serif design.

The initial serif versions contained the same x height, the height of an "x" character from the baseline, as the original meta fonts, but the serifs on the new characters were still overpowering. The design team finally decided to adjust the metrics of the meta serif family so that even though the serif characters didn't match the sans serif meta fonts mathematically, they were still perceived as the same. In 2007, the FF Meta® serif family was released.

Ad

You might also Like

Recommended

Discuss this Article

Post your comments

Post Anonymously

Login

username
password
forgot password?

Register

username
password
confirm
email