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posted on 12/5/2019

Bauer Grotesk 2.0

New characters, new languages, new features!

Almost exactly five years after the furious first appear­ance of Bauer Grotesk, we have exten­sively extended the font family. It now also sup­ports Greek, Cyrillic and Vietnamese.

If you want to know why we did it and what it took to do it, read on – and con­sider making a cup of coffee first.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten – Friedrich Bauer Grotesk

Friedrich Bauer Grotesk – the metal type Bauer Grotesk is based upon – had a rather limited char­acter set. Not untypi­cal for the 1930s, when the type­face was created. So right from the start we were con­fronted with the chal­lenge of design­ing new char­acters in the style of the old ones. We found some ideas in Ham­burger Grotesk (later Genzsch Grotesk), which was a further devel­op­ment of Friedrich Bauer Grotesk, even if it did not come close to its quality.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten – Hamburger Grotesk

Hamburger Grotesk Specimen (Source: Museum of Work, Hamburg)

In 1946, after the war, the com­pany Genzsch & Heyse took over Friedrich Bauer Grotesk from J.D. Trennert und Sohn and developed it further under a new name. The forms for the two-storey a or the M with straight legs originate from this typeface, for example.

The type of italics is also similar to that of the Ham­burger Grotesk. Friedrich Bauer Grotesk itself was never offered with an italic.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten – Hamburger Grotesk

Hamburger Grotesk Alternative shapes

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten – Friedrich Bauer Grotesk

Many other characters, such as small caps, currency symbols, number variants, arrows, etc. had to be redrawn, if possi­ble in such a way that they matched the style of the other char­acters. Not an easy task and for the time being it was enough for us, since the char­acter set had already grown con­sider­ably to over 1300 glyphs.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Our self-control lasted until the end of 2015 and an episode of “The Americans”. Over­whelmed by the omni­present Cyrillic letters, this thought slowly crept in: “Wouldn’t Bauer look good in Cyrillic, too?“ The ques­tion answered itself. Because it was actually already clear to us that Geo­metric Grotesques and Cyrillic are a very good match.

Down the Rabbit Hole

After some research, we were finally con­vinced by the idea and started work­ing. Until we real­ized that the real goal of an exten­sion should be a pan-Euro­pean char­acter set. So Greek appeared on our to-do list, too. Until we asked FontShop what they thought of the idea. Back came: “Good idea! But what about adding Viet­namese, too?” And all of a sudden our list had grown by another considerable entry.

What about adding Vietnamese, too?

We knew that we had to study the forms and lan­guages inten­sively before we could start drawing letters for real. Fortu­nately, we were able to rely on the exper­tise of the renowned type designer Jovica Veljović, who gave us valu­able feed­back many times over.


As we delved deeper and deeper into the world of Cyril­lic and Greek letters, we began with the Viet­nam­ese exten­sion. Since these are merely new dia­crit­ics for exist­ing Latin letters, we stayed on famil­iar terrain for the time being. Never­theless, it was an inter­est­ing and chal­leng­ing task to har­mo­nize all new dia­crit­ics with each other and to fit them into the sys­tem of the exist­ing ones. Of course, the double dia­crit­ics posed the biggest prob­lem, as their height in par­ticu­lar should not be too high, but the ind­ividual parts should not be too small either. After a lot of test­ing and opti­mis­ing we got a nice new set of dia­crit­ics and had real­ized that Viet­nam­ese dia­crit­ics are prob­ably the coolest of them all.

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The longer we studied the Cyril­lic alphabet, the more we began to love it. At first glance, Cyril­lic – especially in sans serif type­faces – always appears very blocky and coarse, with it’s many verticals and very few ascend­ers and descend­ers. But when you begin to read these lan­guages, this first impres­sion gives way to an unex­pected, rough warmth. At least that’s how we felt. And that, of course, made it all the more enjoy­able to work on these letters.

We were aiming for the sweet spot between a maximum of users and a manageable number of characters

Since Cyrillic does not only contain Russian, but also several other lan­guages, first of all we had to deter­mine the range of characters. We were aiming for the sweet spot between a maxi­mum of users and a manage­able num­ber of char­acters. In the end, we came up with 90 letters, almost twice as many as in the basic set, covering 51 languages.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

x-Height of Evil

The low x-height, especially in the light weights, was not really our friend in Cyrillic. Letters like be or ef chal­lenged us the most. With be it was difficult to fill the large space above the x-height without letting the letter appear unbalanced or like a 6. In other type­faces the prob­lem is rather that this white space becomes too small if the lower part is not shortened. But Bauer is just a kind of its own... In addition to that, we had to shorten the ascender of the ef to avoid creat­ing too much imbal­ance with the descender.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Final version of the letters ef and be in light und bold

Cyrillic Italic

In many typefaces, some Cyril­lic char­acters change their shape in the italics. This con­struc­tion is closer to the writing form and more natural. For Bauer Grotesk, we had to consider whether we wanted to go down this path. We decided against it and followed the style of the Latin italic, which was also designed as an oblique in the original – so no changes in shape are made here, as is commonly done with a, e or g, for example.

This seemed to be a better fit with the original and, in our opinion, this should always be one of the most import­ant factors in a revival.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Oblique Construction of italics in Latin and Cyrillic letters


Bulgaria, Serbia and Macedonia use the Cyril­lic alpha­bet, but in some char­acters the forms differ, espe­cially in Bulgarian. Of course, these locally influ­enced form variants should not be miss­ing in Bauer Grotesk.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten


We have created a Stylis­tic Set for the Cyril­lic Te. Espe­cially in a geo­metric gro­tesque this version works very well and makes the appear­ance of the font a bit more blocky and con­structed. If you want to push this even further, you should use the Titling Feature and switch De/de and El/el to the geometric variants.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Cyrillic alternates Titling Feature and Stylistic Set 12


Most Greek capitals share their form with the Latin ones. The lower case is more exciting. The first chal­lenge with the Greek letters was to decide how geo­metric they could become without turning abstract. Here, too, we first sought for the answer in the original. In some letters, such as o or n, Bauer Grotesk is rather human­istic, i.e. not so radi­cally geo­metric. Other letters like the t on the other hand are very strict. Overall, there is an inter­esting tension between dynamic and static/con­structed. We had already worked this out in the first release. In the default version the font is rather geo­metric, but with Stylistic Set 3 you can empha­size the human­istic side of the font in the OpenType settings.

The first challenge with the Greek letters was to decide how geometric they could become without turning abstract

So far so good, but what does that mean in par­ticu­lar for the Greek alpha­bet? In order to make a final decision, we had to research Greek prints a little deeper and study geo­metric typefaces from the 1930s and 40s.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Research material

First example: pi.

Two variants dominated the histori­cal type­faces. The very reduced rect­angle ver­sion and the some­what clearer ver­sion with the accen­tuated hori­zontal. The second ver­sion was much more com­mon and prob­ably rightly so. But for this we opted for the reduced ver­sion. This con­struc­tion felt more like Bauer. Like the t, it is not the most read­able ver­sion, but helps to main­tain the tension between geo­­metry and dynamics.

In Stylistic Set 3 you can switch the pi and some other char­acters to a more dynamic version if you like.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Stylistic Set 3 Effect of the dynamic alternates

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Second example: delta.

The top can be straight or curved. Both occur in the histor­ical sources. Here, con­trary to the pi, we have opted for the softer, curved shape. The font was sup­posed to be pre­domi­nantly geo­metric, but not too hard. We had the feel­ing that this would have hap­pened with the hori­zontal termi­nal. In addition, the curved ver­sion was more com­patible with the low x-height.

beta, theta and gamma

In our source mate­rial beta, gamma and theta very fre­quently had shapes, that are rarely used today, espe­cially in ge­ometric gro­tesques. We liked these shapes but in the default ver­sion these char­acters would have been too unfa­miliar for today’s readers – Stylistic Set 14 to the rescue.

Bauer Grotesk 2.0, allerzeiten

Alternates for beta, gamma and theta

Stylistic Set 12 M, Em and Mu

New M

The Latin language system got a little treat, too. Since we were asked quite fre­quently whether we could offer an M with straight legs, we included it in this release. Advantage: The form of the M is also available in Cyril­lic (Em and em) and Greek (Mu). One M to rule them all, so to say. Find the new M in Stylistic Set 12.

And finally we added the necessary cur­rency sym­bols for the new lan­guages before we started kern­ing. This took a lot of time, since the char­acter set had reached about 2400 characters – in other words, it had almost doubled.

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Proofs Kerning, kerning, kerning

In the end, we were happy that we had not only brought a type­face into the 21st century, but also made it avail­able to sig­nifi­cantly more people than ever before. As a bonus, we’ve learnt an incredi­ble amount – in addi­tion to the new lan­guage systems, a whole range of vocabu­lary, because without being able to read the letters, it’s hard to design them.

We are looking forward to seeing the new Bauer Grotesk in use.