Normschrift

A variable font by Jens Kutilek based on the ISO 3098 standard lettering.

My mother worked as a draftswoman. When I was young, she gave me her old lettering stencils and Rapidograph pens to play with. I’ve been fond of this lettering style ever since.

Apprentice draftspeople and other technical professions had to learn to write in this style. Using the stencils was slow and cumbersome, so they had to learn to write “Normschrift” freehand.

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2522/2,5      jens·type      ISO 3098/1       GERMANY DIN 6776

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This is pure HTML + CSS + a webfont!

About Normschrift

“Normschrift” — the sound of this word drove many an apprentice draftsperson to despair.

In the good old days before computers, draftsmen and draftswomen wearing white smocks worked on big drawing boards with Rapidograph pens. The pens were hell to keep clean and in working condition, as the ink tended to clog up the delicate mechanism when it dried.

Apprentices had a hard time learning a standard lettering style colloquially called “Normschrift” — “standard writing”. As Germans like their cryptic & important-sounding code names, the official name was “DIN 6776” in the west, and “TGL0-16/TGL0-17” in the east.

The typical orange stencils were cumbersome to use, so you really had to learn to write this style freehand. Apprentices had to keep a report note book and were also graded on how well they could write Normschrift.

Later this lettering style became an international standard, ISO 3098, but since the advent of computers it gradually fell out of use, and today mostly system fonts are used for CAD drawings.

In the Normschrift fonts, I designed an implementation of this lettering style, following the ISO standard loosely. The engineers who invented Normschrift knew nothing about proper letter spacing. The original style included an upright variant and one slanted 15° (or 75° in engineer’s measurements). Thanks to variable font technology, you can now also use any slant angle in between those extremes. There are also two Stylistic Sets for the alternate a and the filled-in counters.

You can play with the variable font on Axis-Praxis.