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FF OCR-F Alternatives

See also: Fonts from The Big City

Noah Nazir
Last edited August 08, 2018

FF OCR-F came as the first in a series of “non-design” typefaces for the FontFont library. Technically oriented faces, such as DIN, Courier, Pica, or OCR-A and OCR-B have never seen so much demand in design as today. Art directors, magazine publishers, and poster designers love their cold, martial forms. At the same time, many would like to have a few more weight options and perhaps a quasi-proportional version of these faces available. FontFont’s FF OCR-F is a re-working of OCR-B, with two completely new weights – light and bold – and oldstyle figures. To give the proportionally-spaced typeface a monospaced aesthetic, the design was fit to a course grid of about 12 units to the em square. Wider letters like m, w and M and W were kept rather narrow, and i and I were permitted to keep their serifs. The work was undertaken by Albert-Jan Pool, also the designer of FF DIN. He described the context of the family as follows: “OCR-B was originally conceived in the late 1960s for ECMA, a European association of computer manufacturers. They had decided on enhancing their minimal standards of resolution and mechanisms of Optical Character Recognition for their machines and software. Until that day, they had used OCR-A, a typeface which suited the current practical needs, but only as far as machines were involved. Humans did not quite appreciate OCR-A. Computers as well as the piles of matrix-printed output they produced were far from user-friendly. OCR-B was devised to encourage a greater acceptance of computers. Adrian Frutiger was asked to design a typeface that took full advantage of the new standard. Once being an aesthetic compromise between the reading capabilities of man and machine, OCR-B has in fact come to technically outlive itself.”“When I was asked by Erik Spiekermann to re-work OCR-B for FontFont,” Pool continued, “I first considered this rather nonsensical. After all, Frutiger had also designed Univers, which can be considered as the typeface from which OCR-B had been derived. How could it make sense to improve OCR-B? It made me think of my teacher Gerrit Noordzij, who once said: ‘turning things upside-down does not always lead to improvement, but it surely makes them funnier.’ Seen from his point of view, there would be no excuse at all to do something with OCR-B. Still, I find it a rule which applies to the attitude that designers have when they play with OCR-B and similar typefaces. So why not do OCR-F in that manner and supply them with a useful toy?”

No tails in the disorder please

OCR A and OCR B are standardized, monospaced fonts designed for "Optical Character Recognition" on electronic devices. OCR A was developed to meet the standards set by the American National Standards Institute in 1966 for the processing of documents by banks, credit card companies and similar businesses. This font was intended to be "read" by scanning devices, and not necessarily by humans.... Read More

Throw mischievous cook the sauce

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No occupation while stabilizing

Arial was designed for Monotype in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders. A contemporary sans serif design, Arial contains more humanist characteristics than many of its predecessors and as such is more in tune with the mood of the last decades of the twentieth century. The overall treatment of curves is softer and fuller than in most industrial style sans serif faces. Terminal strokes... Read More

Slip away the hot chicken slice

FF Fago is the quintessential corporate typeface, a result of many years of work within the challenges and requirements of complex corporate design projects. The family offers five finely balanced weights across three widths, enough for virtually any conceivable application. Its various widths were carefully planned and drawn to complement and combine with each other. Aside from the impressive... Read More

Life’s a bitch, and I’m a dog

Rundfunk Grotesk font was produced together with Rundfunk Antiqua by the Linotype Design Studio in 1933-1935. The combination was originally intended for small point sizes and shorter texts. Unfortunately, this font was never completed and consists only of Antiqua roman and Grotesk bold. This unusual combination was chosen because small newspaper ads often use a semi bold for the headlines... Read More

I doubt, therefore I could be

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Canned beverage make you refresh

The Handel Gothic™ typeface has been a mainstay of graphic communication for over 40 years - all the while looking as current as tomorrow. Designed by Don Handel in the mid-1960s, and used in the 1973 United Airlines logo developed by Saul Bass, Handel Gothic was an instant success when released to the graphic design community. Its generous lowercase x-height, full-bodied counters and square... Read More

Dog pawprints on your clothes

The Face2Face (F2F) series was inspired by the sound of 1990s music, personal computers, and new font creation software. For years, Alexander Branczyk and his friends formed a unique type design collective, which churned out a substantial amount of fresh, new fonts, none of which complied with the traditional rules of typography. Many of these typefaces were used to create layouts for the... Read More

Slippery chicken hot pot young

Lucida is a family of fonts with one basic design, but offered in two variations. It has both serif and sans serif characters. Lucida is suitable for books/text, documentation/business reports, posters, advertisement, multimedia.

Living to fry the beef rice

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During planning for the new Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at the beginning of the 1970s, it was determined that the airport's... Read More

The road to hell wasn’t paved in a day

Linotype Ergo was designed by American Gary Munch, and was a winner in Linotype's Second International Digital Design Contest in 1997. Conceived as a blend of traditional and modern type concepts, it works as a legible text family as well as a lively display or headline font. The word ergo means "consequently," but it also comes from the Greek word "ergon" for "work." Consequently, Munch sees... Read More

Do not spit too loud, thank you

Following Generis, Aeonis is Erik Faulhaber’s second large type family. Lapidary inscriptions from Ancient Greece supured Faulhaber on to create this typeface’s basic sans serif forms. This clarity is visible in the simplified form of the typeface's capital A. Further inspiration came from a domed lamp designed in 1952 by Wilhelm Wagonfeld; this went on to inspire the roundness in Aeonis.... Read More

The soil bean burns the beef

The Ambigue designed by Carla Schweyer, originally was named "Confidence". This font family receives the first prize at the German Kurt Christians-Foerderpreis in 1997/98. This professional typeface is available in the weights Light, Regular, Medium and Bold. Its interpolated weights offer a subtle differentiation in the grey levels. A special "Small" weights is available which offers a better... Read More

Please do not get over it

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FF Fago goes professional with its two Correspondence members, Sans and Serif, made with the needs of the business world in mind. The... Read More

Help oneself terminating machine

Morris Sans is a newly revised and extended version of a small geometric family of typefaces originally produced by Morris Fuller Benton in 1930 for ATF. His initial design consisted of an alphabet of squared capital letters with a unique twist that characterized its appearance: corners with rounded exteriors and right-angle interiors. The types were intended for use in the fine print found on... Read More

Please handle with cake

Created for magazine and newspaper headlines, FF Turmino is probably the first typeface that inverts the usual relation between weight and width. In other words: the heavier the font the more condensed it is. When using the family for newspapers or magazines it is now possible for the first time ever to set more text in Black than in Normal or Light. The result is a happy little family that... Read More

Courage is grace under pressure

The Azbuka™ typeface family has its roots in a fairly pedestrian source. “The idea came in part from an old sign in London that read ‘SPRINKLER STOP VALVE’,” says Dave Farey, designer of the typeface. Like all good sign spotters, Farey took a photograph of the sign and filed it away for possible use in a lettering or typeface design project. In Prague a number of years later, the street signs... Read More

Stick to coffee and alcohol

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Dried ball bursts into rage

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Please no bomb into the ash here

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Typefaces without serifs were known in nineteenth-century England as Grotesque (or Grotesk in German) because they seemed so unusual to... Read More

Please stop to steal our newspaper

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That square is top of cool shape

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FF Dax is without doubt Hans Reichel’s magnum opus. The design is a contemporary streamlined sans in three widths: normal, wide, and... Read More

Help oneself terminating machine

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Adrian Frutiger
Linotype 1968
Erik Spiekermann and Christian Schwartz
FontFont 2003
Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders
Monotype 1982

Linotype Design Studio
Linotype 1933
Henning Krause and Jörg Hemker
FontFont 2002
Donald Handel, Nadine Chahine and Rod McDonald
ITC 2010
Alexander Branczyk
Linotype 1992
Kris Holmes and Charles Bigelow
Tagir Safayev
Adrian Frutiger, Akira Kobayashi, Nadine Chahine, Anuthin Wongsunkakon, Monotype.Design Studio, Yanek Iontef, Akaki Razmadze and Pria Ravichandran
Linotype 2009
Gary Munch
Linotype 1997
Erik Faulhaber
Linotype 2009
Carla Schweyer
Linotype 1999
Ole Schäfer and Andreas Eigendorf
FontFont 2000
Bart Blubaugh
Morris Fuller Benton
Bitstream 1909
Morris Fuller Benton and Dan Reynolds
Linotype 1930
Ole Schäfer
FontFont 2002
Dave Farey and Richard Dawson
Monotype 2008
Steffen Sauerteig
FontFont 1998
Chauncey H. Griffith
Bitstream 1938
Steve Matteson, Frank Hinman Pierpont, Monotype.Design Studio and Frank
Monotype 1926
Hans Reichel
FontFont 2005


Hans Reichel
FontFont 1995
Werner Schneider and Helmut Ness
Linotype 2002