NUMBER PLATE FONTS OF EUROPE

DIN 1451 Mittelschrift  |  1936, by Ludwig Goller (based on an earlier Prussian Railways design from 1905), later redrawn by Linotype staff, commercial. Other implementations also available from various foundries.

DIN 1451 Mittelschrift font specimen (full alphabet)

Notes about the specific European countries that use variations of DIN 1451 for their number plates appear further below. Click the following links to go directly to the notes for each country, indicating how they have modified the font for their own use:  Austria  |  Belgium  |  Czech Republic  |  Finland  |  Germany  |  Hungary  |  Italy  |  Poland  |  Romania  |  Slovakia  |  Spain  |  Sweden

Most of the relevant information about DIN 1451 is covered in our main narrative about European number plate fonts.

A point we’ll mention here is the alternate forms of the 6 and 9. In the original design of the typeface, the ending strokes of these two numerals used the curved finishing stroke form of the characters shown above. The modern interpretations of the typeface use the diagonal finishing stroke, with the curved, semicircular versions having been relegated to secondary status as alternate characters. (Either a separate font or special keystroke required to access them.)

Most European countries who employ DIN 1451 for their number plates use the original versions of the 6 and 9, however. Poland is an exception that uses the newer-style diagonal 6 and 9, and Sweden at one time employed the modern versions, although its current use of DIN employs the original forms.

Modernized DIN 1451 variants: There are a couple of modern “reinterpretations” of DIN worth mentioning:

FF DIN by FontFont: FF DIN differs from DIN 1451 in two respects. Design-wise, the width of horizontal strokes and arcs have been narrowed slightly for more optically even and harmonious stroke weights. This is a common optical adjustment (to compensate for human perceptual quirks) built into more modern sans serifs, compared to those of earlier eras. Otherwise, the overall design of the original DIN 1451 has been followed fairly closely. Secondly, the basic single-weight design of DIN 1451 has been expanded into a complete family of 5 weights (light, regular, medium, bold, and black) with corresponding italics.

Informatic: Unlike FF DIN, this is a significantly different design from DIN 1451, but the overall influence and inspiration is clear. Letterforms in the curves are more square, but at the same time Informatic has a more humanistic, less antiseptic feel.

For further specimens or to buy this font:

Linotype (original foundry)
Adobe (as DIN Schriften Mittelschrift and Engschrift)
Monotype / Fonts.com
Bitstream / Myfonts.com

Equivalent font by different designer and/or under different name, from:

Elsner+Flake (as DIN 1451)
URW++ (as Fette Mittelschrift & Engschrift)
Bitstream / Myfonts.com (Elsner+Flake version above)
Bitstream / Myfonts.com (URW++ Mittelschrift and Engschrift above)

We do not sell fonts ourselves or field questions about them.

We recommend Myfonts.com as the most user-friendly of all font sites on the web, for its overall combination of quick-loading pages, faster and more tailored font-searching, and more extensive and flexible font specimen displays. (Note: We have no relationship with Myfonts.com except as a satisfied user/ customer.)

Countries who use DIN 1451
derivatives for their number plates

Alteration in character widths for license plate use is customary. As with most fonts, the numeric characters in the original DIN 1451 are narrower on average than the width of the uppercase alpha characters. Most countries who currently use DIN 1451 for number plates have modified the font so the letters and numbers are about the same width, or exactly so if the font is strictly monospaced. To achieve this, alpha characters are typically made narrower than in the original font, while the numerals are widened. The actual overall average character width varies from country to country, however, sometimes significantly. Also note that the replicated commercial versions of the number plate fonts featured on this site may have character widths that may not be strictly monospaced. Commercial replicas may feature more tailored individual character widths plus kerning pairs so that character fit is better for general graphic design use.

Austria

Austria’s plates currently, and going all the way back to the 1940s after World War II, have used a sans serif font based on DIN 1451 but with round endstrokes, although character shapes have changed a bit over the years. Other than the round endstrokes, notable points of difference with standard DIN 1451 are:

  • 7 – gently curved diagonal, no serif on upper left.
  • J – crossbar at top of character extending from left of main vertical stroke for full character width.
  • Note that Austria’s font is unusual among license plate typefaces for retaining a normal W shape (Austria’s font is not strictly monospaced), without a truncated center vertex (extends to the full cap height).

Belgium

Based on DIN 1451 with these noticeably modified characters: 1, 3, B, D, K, M, Q (slightly), S, W.

Czech Republic

Font based closely on DIN 1451 with some differences.

Finland

The Finnish font is a mixture of some characteristics from DIN 1451 with more humanistic influences. Sides of some normally curved letters such as C, G, O, and Q are straight; the numeral 4 is typical DIN; yet other characters such as D, 6, 9 have oval/ curved sides.

Germany

As mentioned previously, in 1936 the German Institute for Industrial Standards (DIN) chose DIN 1451 as the country’s standard font for industrial use including traffic and vehicle applications. Thus the typeface was used for license plates in its original form in Germany until 2000, when a new standard was adopted mandating the use of FE Schrift.

Hungary

Collectors’ examples dating from 1990 show Hungary’s plate font to be a close derivative of DIN 1451 Mittelschrift with relatively minor differences.

Italy

Italy uses a font based on DIN 1451, although the weight is lighter than the norm. Characters with significant changes:

  • 3 – flat top on upper bowl, with angled connecting stroke to the central junction.
  • 4 – much shorter vertical stroke on right side.
  • 5 – vertex at upper left of the lower bowl is close to a straight right angle rather than acute and curved.
  • 6 and 9 – “tails” of characters end at an angle, short of forming a full semicircle.
  • 7 – no downward serif at upper left.
  • G – horizontal spur considerably below midline.
  • Q – has been discontinued in Italy’s number plate font since 1999. However, in previous versions the angled tail was a bit truncated compared to DIN 1451, and chopped parallel to the baseline on the bottom.
  • As with most license plate fonts, M and W are considerably narrowed, with both vertexes ending short of the character midline.

Poland

Since the 1970s, Poland’s font has been modeled on DIN 1451 with some differences. Most are relatively minor excepting a few characters such as the numeral 4, which has a fully closed triangle-type glyph with crossbar that stops flush at the vertical stroke. The letter K’s angled strokes meet together at the downstroke instead of just the top stroke intersecting the vertical stroke. And the vertexes on the M and W are not so truncated as in many countries’ ad hoc adjustments to DIN 1451. Also, as discussed above, Poland uses DIN’s modern alternate forms of 6 and 9 with diagonal finishing strokes rather than the original forms with semicircular ending strokes.

Romania

Current plates since at least early 1990s are based on DIN 1451.

Slovakia

Uses a font closely based on DIN 1451 with some differences. In the 1980s the 7 had no downward-pointing serif on the upper left, but sometime in the 1990s the font implemented the standard DIN 1541 numeral 7 with the serif. Since May 2004, the zero has included a 45-degree angled cut sliced out of the upper right portion of the character.

Spain

Current font is modeled after DIN 1451.

Sweden

Sweden began its use of a DIN 1451 derivative in 1972, but from 1994–2001 switched to a modified form of Helvetica Bold, then in 2002 reverted to DIN 1451 again. In the earlier period when DIN was used, the modern forms of numerals 6 and 9 with diagonal “tails” were employed, whereas in the current period since 2002 the original forms with semicircular tails are being used.

License Plate Fonts of the Western World    Page:  Intro  |  North America (1)  |  North America (2)  |  North America (3)  |  North America (4)  |  North America (5)  |  North America (6)  |  Europe (1)  |  Europe (2)  |  Australia & New Zealand