What fonts do German signs use?

This guide lists fonts that are used in Germany.

Official font for Berlin

Berlin Type is the font used on official posters from the city of Berlin. It is free to use.

“The German font”

When people talk about “the German font”, they’re often thinking about Fraktur. While it’s often associated with National Socialism, it was declared “ungerman” by Adolf Hitler himself in 1941.1 Tannenberg was commonly used from 1935 to 1941.

BVG font

The BVG uses the FF Transit font for all its signage and advertising. This font and its pictograms were designed by Berlin-based design firm MetaDesign in 1997. FF Transit was designed for signage, and is also used by the Düsseldorf airport and the Société de transport de Montréal.

Deutsche Bahn fonts

The Deutsche Bahn uses its own font family: DB Type. They use DIN 1451-4 for technical signs on the trains themselves since the 1920s. It’s a replacement for Musterzeichnung IV 442).

In the former East Germany, you will still find signs that use Erbar Grotesk. Helvetica was also briefly used.

The fonts used by the Deutsche Bahn are well-documented, thanks the work of countless model train enthusiasts.

German road sign font

German road signs use DIN 1451, which is available in 3 variants, Engschrift, Mittelschrift and Breitschrift. This standard font was introduced in 1931. The Deutsche Post also uses DIN 1451.

German licence plate font

German licence plates use FE-Schrift (Fälschungserschwerende Schrift) since 1995,3 which made plate numbers too easy to alter.

Berlin and East German fonts

A large number of East German signs were made by DEWAG. They often used variants of the Erbar Grotesk font. Erbar is used for Berlin’s street name signs, and many warning signs.

There are several digital releases of Erbar: URW Erbar, Dunbar, and Peter Wiegel’s Osterbar.

Pieter Wiegel recreated many historical fonts and published them on his website. They can be used without restrictions for commercial purposes.4

Sources and footnotes
  1. spurnull-magazin.de 

  2. Wikipedia 

  3. Wikipedia 

  4. peter-wiegel.de