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FF Scala®

By FontFont

Martin Majoor
FF Scala: a perfectly equipped font family group, for more than just text setting
In the mid-1980s, Martin Majoor worked as a designer for the Vredenburg Music Center in the Dutch city of Utrecht. At that time, one of the relatively new DTP systems was available to him. However, none of the only 16 installed PostScript fonts could satisfy his professional demands for text setting. He did not have any old style figures, for example, or small caps or ligatures. Majoor decided to compensate for this lack with his own font, Scala. The font was released in 1991 as the first real text font from the newly formed FontShop. A few years later, a sans companion was added and subsequently the font became a continuously growing super family. Today, FF Scala®, FF Scala® Sans and the ornamental font FF Scala® Jewel are available as well-equipped OpenType fonts, and not only for text setting.

FF Scala
Majoor modeled the serif Renaissance Antiqua on a number of historical fonts, without copying any of them exactly. A clearly perceptible, though not extreme, contrast in stroke width and some sharp shapes sometimes recall the stroke of a fountain pen. The serifs designed as rectangles provide for extra sharpness and a distinctive, powerful image. Nonetheless, the very legible font has a pleasant and friendly appearance, not in the least due to the rounded points.
As a small peculiarity, Majoor designed open counters for "b", "q" and "p".
The italic is a true cursive, in which all the characters have a clearly inclined and particularly curved form, with numerous references to a fountain pen and long, drawn outline ends. FF Scala is available in the four major weights for text setting, Regular, Italic, Bold and Bold Italic. A Condensed variant complements both upright weights. Of course, the modern OpenType variants have the small caps, old-style numerals, and ligatures, which were so important to Martin Majoor at the time. A set of hand pictograms rounds out the character range.

All the fonts in the FF Scala family are co-ordinated in stroke width and X-height and fit each other perfectly. Whether in the typesetting or for other, large projects, you have access to rich and varied design options, not least thanks to the unique Jewel styles.

Commissioned by the Bredenburg Music Center of Utrecht in the Netherlands in 1990, designer Martin Majoor was able to pursue FF Scala as a personal experiment in breaking convention. Confused by the conventional ideas in the typeface community regarding serif and sans fonts, Majoor developed FF Scala outside of mainstream notions and delved heavily into new digital design technologies. An old style, humanist, serif, FF Scala is not a direct descendent of any one classic typeface, but rather acts as a confluence of several historic designs. It is a complete typeface family and includes small capitals and a wide range of ligatures.

A companion sans-serif, the FF Scala Sans® font family was designed and released two years after FF Scala, accelerating the typeface’s popularity and usability. Yet another addition came in 1997 with the FF Scala Jewels font family, a typeface with decorative capitals and a Dutch Baroque influence.


The FF Scala typeface is used around the world in design and display elements. Its public applications include use by the Metro of the City of Los Angeles and the New York Public Library. Commercially, FF Scala was used for many years as the house typeface for Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad . It was also employed as the in-house typeface for international airline carrier, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.

Sans Serif