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“Does Ob stand for Oblique?” You’ll find out as we crack the code to this and other font abbreviation mysteries.

font management

A while back, we came up with a list of font name abbreviations. We’ve decided to provide that list again! Here are a few abbreviations that many of you may need help deciphering:

Kinds of Font Abbreviations

Font Abbreviations mostly fall in several common categories:

Foundry name: usually in the form of one or two letters at the beginning or end of the name (LT, MT, A, BT, FB, URW). “Foundries” are the companies that create fonts, a term going back to the days of metal type.

Language designation: comes at the end of a name (Cyr, Grk, CE). Generally this only applies to older fonts where a separate font was issued for different languages. In most cases, newer fonts put all the languages in a single font.

Font size as intended in print: (Text, Display, Poster/Caption, Small Text, Regular, Subhead, Display).

Read up on optical size for more on this concept. Note that this is usually a print-focused designation; if one is using print fonts for screen/web, using fonts designed for smaller sizes in print at somewhat bigger sizes on screen is often a good idea. A “caption” font might be great for body text on screen.

Download the complete list of font abbreviations here.

Extremely light and extremely heavy weights are generally only useful at very large sizes. The full names for some common weights, in approximate increasing order: Hairline, UltraThin, UltraLight, Thin, ExtraLight, Light, Regular, Book, Medium, Semibold or Demibold, Bold, ExtraBold, Heavy, Black, ExtraBlack, UltraBold or Ultra.

  • A: Adobe, the type foundry and software company based in California.
  • A2: Not an abbreviation. A foundry based in London.
  • AEF: Altered Ego Fonts Foundry
  • Bd: Bold
  • Bk: Book. A designation of weight close to “regular” which may exist in place of regular, or be slightly lighter or heavier, depending on the foundry’s preferences.
  • Bl, Blk: Black. A very bold weight, beyond Extra Bold
  • Com: Communication. Linotype’s name for fonts aimed at corporate customers, which are TrueType flavored OpenType fonts that have a specific extended character set (close to Western + CE, actually “LEEC”) and generally lack extensive OpenType alternate glyphs.
  • Dm, Demi: Demibold, a weight in between regular and bold.
  • IHOF: International House of Fonts. A distribution imprint of the P22 foundry.
  • LT: Linotype. A large foundry dating back to the 19th century (but see also Lt), later acquired by Monotype.
  • Lt: Light. A font with strokes a bit thinner than usual. (But see also LT)
  • LTC: Lanston Type Co. Originally the US counterpart of Monotype a century ago, recently acquired by P22.
  • M, Mono: Monospaced. A typewriter-like font in which all the characters have the same width. “M” by itself is URW’s abbreviation.
  • MT: Monotype. A large foundry dating back to the 19th century.
  • Ob, Obl: Oblique. A slanted counterpart to an upright font. Oblique differs from italic in that the design is essentially unchanged. In many cases there has not even been any compensation for the unpleasant optical effects caused by mechanical/mathematical slanting. Generally a real italic font is preferable. In most applications, hitting an “italic” button on a font that has no italic style available results in a particularly gruesome OS-improvised oblique, at about double the angle of typical designed obliques or italics.
  • URW, URW++: A foundry. No longer an abbreviation, as they no longer use their original full name at all (Unternehmensberatung Rubow Weber is a bit of a mouthful!). The original URW (1972) went bankrupt, and was revived as URW++ in 1995. The name is a play on the name of the programming language C++, a sequel to C.

Wait! There’s more. Check out our Abbreviations in Font Names – The Definitive Guide. You’ll get a comprehensive list of font abbreviations and acronyms to help you get on your way to font management success.

Or if you have a few minutes, read our previous post on finding fonts. We detail some great resources on finding the best fonts for a variety of applications.