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Blackletter Fonts


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Blackletter Styles
Blackletter Fonts in Use

Blackletter fonts can be found on CD covers, newspapers, beer labels, logos, old books, and signs on the sides of buildings. Although they can be used to evoke a certain time period, that's not always the case.

morguefile.com Newspapers Corona bottle | flickr.com Ashlee Simpson CD AW logo, book, wall sign
Pick up a copy of The New York Times, The Sydney Morning Herald, and any of dozens of newspapers around the world and you'll see Blackletter fonts. Look at the pages of the Gutenberg Bible and you'll find Blackletter. In widespread use throughout Western Europe from the mid-1100s to the 17th century — and even longer in Germany — Blackletter fonts may be described as Old English, Medieval, Renaissance, or Gothic fonts.

Blackletter can be roughly divided into four main styles although there are even more recognized forms. Many of the fonts being created today in the Blackletter style are the type designer's interpretation of historical styles and may incorporate elements of several Blackletter styles and features not typically found in historical Blackletter lettering.

  • Textura (or Textur or Textualis) is, perhaps, one of the forms most closely associated with the Blackletter style. It typically features tall, narrow characters with straight and angular lines, and sharp points.
  • Rotunda, an Italian form of Blackletter, has more curves, more rounded shapes but still a lot of straight, angular, thick/thin strokes.
  • Schwabacher is a German style of Blackletter. It has a mix of curves and angular strokes and several distinctive letterforms.
  • Fraktur is the most common German Blackletter, again with a mix of curves, angular strokes, and distinctive letterforms.

Other hybrid (Hybrida or Bastarda) forms of Blackletter were often simplified styles of Textura with a bit of the look of the earlier Carolingian style. Different forms of Blackletter were associated with and developed primarily in specific countries or regions. In common usage today, they all blend together.

Find Blackletter Fonts by Style

On the following pages you can explore the many faces of Blackletter and find free and commercial Blackletter fonts in each of the styles discussed here.

  1. this page
  2. Different Shapes of Blackletter Characters
  3. Textura style fonts
  4. Rotunda style fonts
  5. Schwabacher style fonts
  6. Fraktur style fonts
  7. Hybrid and Other Blackletter fonts

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