Typographic Design:

Form and Communication

Fourth Edition

The Univers Family

A full range of typographic expression and visual contrast becomes possible when all the major characteristics – weight, proportion, and angle – are orchestrated into a unified family. An exceptional example is the Univers family. This family of twenty-one type styles was designed by Adrian Frutiger. Instead of the usual terminology, Frutiger used numerals to designate the typefaces. Univers 55 is the “parent” face; its stroke weight and proportions are the norm from which all the other designs were developed. The black-and-white relationships and proportions of Univers 55 are ideal for text settings.

Careful study of the diagram below reveals that the first digit in each font’s number indicates the stroke weight, three being the lightest and eight the heaviest. The second digit indicates expansion and contraction of the spaces within and between the letters, which results in expanded and condensed styles. Roman fonts are designated with an odd number, and oblique fonts are designated with an even number.

Basic Elements of Typeface Design