Umlauts in München

mili's picture

I had a pleasure to visit Munich after several years' break. What caught my eye was the way umlaut was used in shop signs and in the Bayern München shirts. The shirt one seemed very odd to me, hardly an umlaut!

Are there fonts with umlauts inside the u, or is it just a clever way to keep signs neat and in uniform hight? Is this very common in German speaking countries?

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Frode Bo Helland's picture

It is quite common: http://www.flickr.com/groups/fancy-diacritics/ You’ll also find solutions like this in newspaper design and various other display applications where tight leading is desirable.

riccard0's picture

You will find a lot of creative umlauts here: http://www.flickr.com/groups/fancy-diacritics/pool/

Edit: late.
I will add that in Switzerland I saw macron-like umlauts too.

froo's picture

in Switzerland I saw macron-like umlauts too.
People write this way quite often there.

Florian Hardwig's picture

Hi Mili, thank you for posting these! Any chance you could upload the pictures to Flickr, and add them to our group that Frode and riccard0 linked to?

Is this very common in German speaking countries?

Counter question: Isn’t this done in Finland? Finding creative solutions for diacritics that otherwise stick out of a blocky all-caps word image is not limited to German, or umlauts. It is also done with tildes, háčeks and acutes, for example.

Are there fonts with umlauts inside the u?

Yes, there are a few*, but as far as I am concerned, there should be a lot more. Graphic designers obviously feel the need to fiddle around with fonts (convert to outlines, move the dots), in order to have vertically compact umlauts for tight and blocky all-caps settings. They shouldn’t have to: type designers could provide display alternates, accessible via stylistic sets or the like.

*) Some simply manage to keep the dots within cap height (FB Nobel), some are more fancy, with a vertical arrangement and/or with the dots inside the counter (Mahlau). Others have display alternates that look cramped, and, in older pre-OT fonts, are encoded poorly (Bernhard Antique). Thomas Phinney’s Hypatia Sans is a modern typeface family that provides space-saving alternates via OpenType. You can get them by activating Stylistic Set 12. For the Black weight, the two dots have been arranged vertically.

People write this way quite often there.

True. But there’s a huge difference between handwriting, and lettering and typography. Here are some of the macron-like ‘Swiss umlauts’ that we have collected.

hrant's picture

Graphic designers obviously feel the need to fiddle around with fonts .... in order to have vertically compact umlauts

Here's the thing: do the fonts they do this to already have a non-descending "Q" (and "J")? When not, one has to suspect it's merely playfulness at best, and typical graphic designer look-at-me-too affectation at worst.

hhp

mili's picture

Thank you everyone! I've added the pictures I took to the pool, the shirt isn't mine, so I couldn't add that.

Is the use of vertical umlauts relatively new phenomenon? I lived in Munich for an year in the 90's and don't remember seeing those. Mind you, I wasn't quite as interested in them as I am now, but I'm sure I would've noticed them.

As for diacritics in Finland, we have Ä, Ö and Å, and their diacritics are often dropped down or otherwise embedded, especially in newspaper headlines. Sometimes with Ä and Ö people replace the dots with a macron like line (esp. in handwriting), which in theory changes the letter, but as macron is not used in Swedish or Finnish, it doesn't cause confusion.

Then there's this one font that was never id'd, an unusual approach (scroll to the end for a close-up):
http://typophile.com/node/29532

Nick Shinn's picture

I’ve put them (for German) in a few faces (Scotch Modern, Figgins Sans, Paradigm), in the Titling feature.

Florian Hardwig's picture

Mili, thanks for adding them, much appreciated! The more you look for them, the more you find.

Hrant, you are pretty quick. Bear in mind that A) there are many fonts with a non-descending J to choose from, and B) the letters J and, especially, Q are among the rarest in German spelling. It is a lot more likely to run in one of the three umlauted vowels than in one of these two letters.

Ralf (and Georg), Nick, thanks for making these typefaces, and bringing them to my mind. Excellent!

hrant's picture

among the rarest in German spelling

Good point. Especially since -as you already noted- graphic designers typically don't modify the ascending caps in an actual font, they simply modify a particular (and relatively short) rendering of the font.

hhp

mili's picture

Nick, thanks for the nice umlauts!

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