Futura (typeface)

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Futura Specimen.svg
Category Sans-serif
Classification Geometric sans-serif

Paul Renner
Edwin W. Shaar (Extra Bold, Extra Bold Italic)

Tommy Thompson (Extra Bold Italic)
Foundry Bauer Type Foundry
Date created 1927
Re-issuing foundries Intertype
Design based on Bauhaus

Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed in 1927[1] by Paul Renner. It was designed as a contribution on the New Frankfurt-project. It is based on geometric shapes that became representative of visual elements of the Bauhaus design style of 1919–33.[2] Commissioned by the Bauer Type Foundry, in reaction to Ludwig & Mayer's seminal Erbar of 1922, Futura was commercially released in 1936.[1]

Futura has an appearance of efficiency and forwardness. Although Renner was not associated with the Bauhaus, he shared many of its idioms and believed that a modern typeface should express modern models, rather than be a revival of a previous design. Renner's design rejected the approach of previous sans-serif designs (now often called grotesques), which were based on the models of signpainting, traditional serif typefaces and condensed lettering, in favour of simple geometric forms: near-perfect circles, triangles and squares. It is based on strokes of near-even weight, which are low in contrast. The lowercase has tall ascenders, which rise above the cap line. The uppercase characters present proportions similar to those of classical Roman capitals.


The family was originally cast in Light, Medium, Bold, and Bold Oblique fonts in 1928. Light Oblique, Medium Oblique, Demibold, and Demibold Oblique fonts were later released in 1930. Book font was released in 1932. Book Oblique font was released in 1939. Extra Bold font was designed by Edwin W. Shaar in 1952. Extra Bold Italic font was designed in 1955 by Edwin W. Shaar and Tommy Thompson. Matrices for machine composition were made by Intertype.

Despite its clean geometric appearance, some of Futura's design choices recalled classic serif typefaces. Unlike many sans-serif designs intended for display purposes, Futura has a low x-height, reducing its stridency and increasing its suitability for body text. The original Futura design also included small capitals and old-style figures, which were dropped from the original metal issue of the type. The digital versions of these glyphs were first produced by Neufville Digital under the Futura ND family.[citation needed]

In designing Futura, Renner avoided the decorative, eliminating nonessential elements, but used his knowledge of how people perceive lines and shapes to make subtle departures from pure geometric designs that allow the letterforms to seem balanced.[3] This is most visible in the apparently almost perfectly round stroke of the o, which is nonetheless slightly ovoid.


The commemorative plaque left on the Moon in July 1969 features text set in Futura.

Futura's success spawned a range of new geometric sans-serif typefaces from competing foundries, and remains one of the most used sans-serif types into the twenty-first century. Particularly during the 1950s it was used extensively by the publishing industry as a general purpose font. Futura remains an important typeface family and is used on a daily basis for print and digital purposes as both a headline and body font. The font is also used extensively in advertisements and logos, notably by IKEA (until 2010), Supreme, Party City, Volkswagen, Royal Dutch Shell, Crayola and HP in their print ads.[citation needed]

For example, the font is used for the title logo of the 1999 film American Beauty. It was also used in various TV shows including Doug, Lost, Warehouse 13, the American version of Sesame Street, etc. Futura is also featured ubiquitously throughout the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, used for everything from the title logo and ending credits, to signs, newspapers, computer screens and other props. Wes Anderson is also fond of the font and has used it in all of his films. Futura was also Stanley Kubrick's favorite typeface.[4]

In 1997, the Pittsburgh Steelers (an American Football team) switched to rounded numbers on the jersey to match the number font (Futura Condensed) on their helmets. In 2012 the newly formed Western Sydney Wanderers Football Club use Futura on their logo and club documentation.

Channel 4's drama series Utopia uses Futura.

It is also used on the Bell Canada and the current TV5 (Philippines) logo. Futura is also Animax Asia's main typeface. All three of Vampire Weekend's albums use Futura on the covers, with the first two being exclusively Futura. The Boston Celtics' championship banners are also in Futura Condensed. 2008 science fiction-fantasy film City of Ember features Futura Medium in many prints through the story. The condensed version is the main font in the 2011 role-playing video game The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, as well as being used extensively throughout the Watchmen graphic novel as well as the movie based on it. The Medium version is a font used predominantly alongside the Stratum 2 font in the 2014 racing video game Driveclub. In season 2 of Stargate: Universe, episode "Common Descent – Part 1" the ancestors of the crew state that one of the two continents was named "Futura". There are several references to the name being a font in the episode. RAI, the Italian public service broadcaster, also uses this font from 2000. Futura also served as the typeface for UK television series Utopia '​s title cards, coloured white upon a neon yellow background (neon green in season two).

More recently, Futura has seen widespread use in many films and video games; Destiny and Wolfenstein: The New Order both use Futura on their covers, with Wolfenstein using the font throughout the in-game menus also. The 2013 film Gravity and 2014 films Interstellar and Gone Girl also use Futura on their theatrical release posters.

Futura Black[edit]

Released in 1936,[1] Futura Black is an alternate design that uses stencil letter forms. The two most known uses of the font are the public safety departments of the city of Boston, and the title sequence of the ABC hour-long sitcom The Love Boat.

Futura Display (Futura Schlagzeile)[edit]

Released in 1932, Futura Display uses more angular strokes, resulting in rectangular letter forms.

This is also the font used on the covers of the classic Region 2 Doctor Who DVD covers.

Futura Condensed[edit]

Futura Condensed is a condensed version of the original Futura font family. Bold and bold oblique fonts were released in 1930. Medium, medium oblique, extra bold, and extra bold oblique fonts were released in 1936. Light and light oblique fonts were released in 1950.

Steile Futura[edit]

Steile Futura was Paul Renner's attempt to create a typeface that would be closer to the nineteenth century sans serifs than to the geometric model. During the course of development, Renner developed several intermediate versions. Some of the early design could be found in the experimental font called Renner-Grotesk, which appeared as a trial type casting from the Stempel type foundry in 1936. Renner kursiv, a true italic companion to the regular version, was made after Stempel had been taken over by Bauer in 1938.

The work on the type family continued in the 1940s, but Renner's poor health had slowed down the development. Renner started to work again on this project in 1951 under the name of Steile Futura (steil in German means "upright" or "steep").

The font family released by Bauer consist of mager (light), halbfett (medium), fett (bold), kursiv halbfett (medium italic), and kursiv fett (bold italic). The font family was released in 1952–53. It was sold in German, English, Spanish, and French markets as Steile Futura, Bauer Topic, Vox, Zénith respectively.[5]

The font family has rounder letters than Futura Display. For the first time, italic type features are incorporated in the italic fonts. The fonts incorporate handwriting features, especially in italic version.

Futura ND[edit]

The letter G from the Neufville digitisation of Futura, showing how the apparently circular letterforms are actually subtly distorted, creating an optical illusion that the brain interprets as truly circular.

This version is based on the original sources of the Bauersche Giesserei, which had passed its typefaces to its Barcelona branch, Fundición Tipográfica Bauer SL. Released in 1999 by Neufville Digital – a joint venture of Fundición Tipográfica Bauer SL and Visualogik Technology & Design b.v – it includes small capitals and the old-style figures that had not been made in metal types.

Neufville Digital issued Futura, Futura Black, Futura Condensed, and Futura Display (Futura Schlagzeile) under the Futura ND family.

ParaType version[edit]

The ParaType fonts added Cyrillic characters. They were developed at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1995 by Vladimir Yefimov. They came in only Light, Book, Medium, Demi weights.

Futura Futuris[edit]

Futuris is a redesign at ParaType (ParaGraph) in 1991 by Vladimir Yefimov that includes Cyrillic characters. Condensed styles were added in 1993 by Vladimir Yefimov and Alexander Tarbeev. It is available in Light, Medium, Bold, Black (without oblique) weights, while condensed fonts were made in Bold, Extra Bold, all without obliques. Also available are Cameo Extra Bold (black in reverse), Shadow Light, Shadow Extra Bold (black with shadow), Volume Light.

Futura PT[edit]

This version is based on the previous ParaType design by Vladimir Yefimov, but expanded to include 7 weights, with Book, Medium, Bold, Extra Bold weights for condensed fonts. Additional Cyrillic styles were developed in 2007 by Isabella Chaeva.

Futura Eugenia[edit]

This version is based on the Futura Black, but designed at the Polygraphmash type design bureau in 1987 by Elvira Slysh.


Bukra is an Arabic variant designed by Pascal Zoghbi. It consists of Bukra Extra Bold, which was used as an Arabic display typeface for Ibn Battuta Mall in Dubai as a complement for Futura Extra Bold. The design was based on Kufi script, but using shortened descenders. The name Bukra itself is a phonetic representation of one way to express "tomorrow" or "in the future" in some Arabic cultures.

Influence on other typefaces[edit]

Though Erbar was the first of the new geometric sans-serif faces, the enormous success of Futura fostered the creation of many new geometric sans-serif faces by competing foundries including Kabel, Metro, Vogue, Spartan, Twentieth Century, and Century Gothic among others. Some were near identical copies as in Spartan and Vogue, but others, were uniquely different including Nobel and Kabel.

Typeface designer Adrian Frutiger acknowledges Futura as one of his inspirations for his 1988 typeface Avenir. More recently Futura has been the basis of Ikea Sans and Opel Sans, fonts designed (for Ikea and Opel, respectively) by Robin Nicholas.[6][unreliable source?]

The subway system of the city of Toronto has their own Toronto Subway Font based on Futura.

Tasse is a revival of Steile Futura.

Beteckna is inspired by Futura.

Braggadocio is based on Futura Black.

Fujiyama is a clone of Futura.

The 2000 typeface Gotham is similarly geometric and based on 1920s signage.

Passata is a modernised version of Futura specifically designed to replace Futura as the corporate branding font of Aarhus University.


  1. ^ a b c Download Futura® font family – Linotype.com
  2. ^ The Bauhaus Designer Paul Renner. Creativepro.com.
  3. ^ Moore, Ian. "Making Geometric Type Work". Typographica. Retrieved 3 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Ronson, Jon (27 March 2004). "Citizen Kubrick". The Guardian. 
  5. ^ About Steile Futura. Mitja-m.com.
  6. ^ Hausschriften-Liste. Typografie.info.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]