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Encyclopedia of digital Type!

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Classification of Typefaces

Typefaces are divided into different classes by means of formal reconnaissance features. The DIN 16518 is a partly obsolete but—for lack of meaningful alternatives—still a valid classification of typefaces into genres and categories. The Standard 16518 was published in August 1964 by the German Institute for Standardization (DIN) and followed the suggestion of the Association Typographique International (ATypI) considerably. This norm is very controversial among type experts but still education basis in professions in the graphic industry. It is primarily reproached for its scheme being too old-fashioned and for not satisfying the demands of the type development of the last years any more. A revision of the norm is in work, an agreement of the experts about a new version however still not foreseeable.
In dividing the typefaces into groups, the following changes were made to classification according to
DIN 16518:

Broken Types
(DIN 16518: Group X)

Humanists and Garaldes
(DIN 16518: Group I and II)

(corresponds to DIN 16518 group III)

Modern Face (corresponds to DIN 16518 group IV)

Slab Serifs
Egyptian, Clarendon, Ionic (corresponds to DIN 16518 group V)

Sans Serif, Gothic Grotesque (corresponds to DIN 16518 group VI)

(similar to DIN 16518 group VII)

(corresponds to DIN 16518 group VIII)

The DIN group IX “Graphics” has been omitted altogether. The typefaces normally included in this category have been accommodated either in Scripts (VIII) if they have a distinct hand-written character, or, if they have a distinct old-style character, to the appropriate old-style group.
DIN group X “Broken Types” has been included as a whole in group I.