Planet typography MyFonts
The typographic Times
[February 2006]
FF Meta
by Erik Spiekermann
FF Meta
Meta: the successor of Helvetica

FF MetaErik Spierkermann’s original brief for the German Post Office in 1984 called for a font optimized for “the detailed requirements of small type on bad papier". This earlier font (PT 55) was not accepted by the customer and the project was cancelled. Finally launched under the FF Meta brand name, it was one of the most popular typefaces of the last decade, often referred as "the Helvetica of the 90’s”.

FF Meta

Introduction to FF Meta

FF Meta was originally conceived as a sturdy, basic sans serif typeface, very legible for text at small sizes, with angled terminals and other visual “noise” to give the face a pleasing, slight informality.

In FF Meta, strokes have slightly varying width as the Spiekermann’s goal was that in small sizes, thinner strokes should not “drop out” but, on the contrary, become undistinguishable from the thicker ones.
On the other hand, in compensation for the missing serifs, it has vigorously bent-off tips of vertical strokes in letters like ‘d’ or ‘m’.

FF Meta

Both uppercase and lowercase characters are narrower than in most other sans serif fonts. It is an excellent example of how far it is possible to “humanize” sans serifs and borrowing serif-specific features, while remaining within the sans serif paradigm.

Related article: Erik Spiekermann interview (February 2006)

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