Hans Eduard Meier
D Stempel AG , Linotype
Release Year
Country of Origin
Sans Serif, Humanist Sans
Original Format
Metal (Foundry)
Linotype, FontShop
corporate, humanist, legible, open, sans serif, signage


Syntax is a humanist sans-serif typeface designed 1969-72 by the Swiss typeface designer Hans Eduard Meier (born 1922). It is believed to be the final face designed and released by D. Stempel for foundry casting.

The original drawings were done in 1954; first by writing the letters with a brush, then redrawing their essential linear forms, and finally adding balanced amounts of weight to the skeletons to produce optically monoline letterforms. In the period 1968“1972, Meier worked on additional weights and variations to the Syntax typeface. In 1989, the original foundry metal design was digitized by Adobe, which also expanded the family to include bold and ultrabold weights, resulting in a family family of four romans and 1 italic (in lightest weight) fonts.

Meier described Syntax as being a sans-serif face modeled on the Renaissance serif typeface, similar to Bembo. The uppercase has a wide proportion, and the terminals not being parallel to the baseline provide a sense of animation. The lowercase a and g follow the old style model of having two storeys. The italics are a combination of humanist italic forms, seen in the lowercase italic q, and realist obliques, seen in the lowercase italic a, which retains two storeys, unlike in other humanist sans-serif typefaces like FF Scala Sans and Gill Sans, where the a has a single storey italic.

Different brand names and derivate fonts

Bitstream released Syntax under the name Humanist 531. The family does not include italic font. Infinitype released Syntax under the name Saxony, including italic and medium font. The Cyrillic version was developed at ParaType in 1999 by Isay Slutsker and Manvel Shmavonyan.
The Syntax font family was chosen by Niklaus Wirth for the Oberon operating system. During part of the period that Oberon was under development, Meier worked in Wirth’s group at ETH, developing hand-optimized bitmap versions of the Syntax fonts (this was in the days prior to font anti-aliasing).

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Indra Kupferschmid’s avatar

Last edited by Indra Kupferschmid on August 13, 2010, 09:42am EST

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