Fraktur (script)

Fraktur (script)

Infobox Writing system
name = Latin script (Fraktur variant)
type = Alphabet
time = 16th century – 1946
languages = German¹ and some other European languages
fam1 = Blackletter
sisters = "See Blackletter"
children = Kurrentschrift, including Sütterlin
sample = Schriftzug Fraktur.jpg
imagesize = 200px
iso15924 = Latf
unicode = 002000FF²|
footnotes = 1: And related languages.
2: normal Latin range; see below

The German word Fraktur (Audio-IPA|De-Fraktur.ogg| [frakˈtuːr] ) refers to a specific sub-group of blackletter typefaces. The word derives from the past participle "fractus" (“broken”) of Latin "frangere" (“to break”). As opposed to Antiqua (common) typefaces, which were modelled after antique Roman square capitals and Carolingian minuscule, the blackletter lines are broken up.

The term fraktur is sometimes applied to all of the blackletter typefaces.


One difference between the Fraktur and other blackletter scripts is that in the small-letter "o", the left part of the bow is broken, but the right part is not.

Besides the 26 letters of the Latin alphabet, and the ß ("ess-zet") and vowels with umlauts as well, Fraktur typefaces include the ſ ("long s"), sometimes a variant form of the letter r, and a variety of ligatures once intended to aid the typesetter and which have specialized rules for their use.Most older Fraktur typefaces make no distinction between the majuscules "I" and "J" (where the common shape is more suggestive of a "J"), even though the minuscules "i" and "j" are differentiated.


The first Fraktur typeface was designed when Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I (c. 1493–1519) established a series of books and had a new typeface created specifically for this purpose. Fraktur quickly overtook the earlier Schwabacher and Textualis typefaces in popularity, and a wide variety of Fraktur fonts were carved.


Typesetting in Fraktur was still very common in the early 20th century in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland as opposed to other countries that typeset in Antiqua in the early 20th century. Some books from the time used related blackletter fonts such as "Schwabacher"; however, the predominant typeface was the "Normalfraktur" (Fig. 1), which came in various slight variations.

Since the late 18th century, Fraktur began to be replaced by antiqua as a symbol of the classicist age and emerging cosmopolitanism. The debate surrounding this move is known as the Antiqua-Fraktur dispute. However, the shift mostly affected scientific writing, while most belletristic literature and newspapers continued to be printed in broken fonts. This radically changed when on January 3, 1941 Martin Bormann issued a circular letter to all public offices which declared Fraktur (and its corollary, the Sütterlin-based handwriting) to be "Judenlettern" (Jewish letters) and prohibited further use. It has been speculated that the régime had realized that Fraktur would inhibit communication in the territories occupied during World War II. Fraktur saw a short resurgence after the War, but quickly disappeared in a Germany keen on modernising its appearance.

Fraktur is today used mostly for decorative typesetting; for example, a number of traditional German newspapers still print their name in Fraktur on the first page, and it is also popular for pub signs and the like. In this modern decorative use the Fraktur rules about long s and short s or about ligatures are often disregarded. Individual Fraktur letters are also widely used in mathematics, e.g., to denote Lie algebras, σ-algebras or ideals.

Fraktur in Unicode

In Unicode, Fraktur is considered a font of the Latin script, and is not encoded separately. However, Fraktur symbols for mathematics are encoded in the Supplementary Multilingual Plane (SMP). Bold Fraktur letters (with the exception of the German character ß, which is not used in mathematics) are encoded from 1D56C1D59F in the Mathematical Alphanumeric Symbols area. Regular Fraktur letters are encoded from 1D5041D537 with the following exceptions: Capital C is encoded 0212D, H 0210C, I 02111, R 0211C, Z 02128 and long s with 017F. Fraktur numerals are not encoded as of Unicode 5.0. Fraktur symbols are supported in the freeware Unicode font Code2001.


"(The German sentence in the figures [after the name of the font, Walbaum-Fraktur: or Humboldfraktur:] reads: "Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den Sylter Deich". This is a nonsense sentence meaning "Victor chases twelve box fighters across the dike of Sylt", but contains all 26 letters of the alphabet plus the German umlauts and is thus an example of a pangram.)"

ee also

* Sütterlin
* long s
* Eszett
* Emphasis (typography)
* Blackletter
* Fette Fraktur
* Antiqua-Fraktur dispute
* Fraktur (Pennsylvania German folk art)
* Pennsylvania German
* Gaelic script

References and further reading

* [ A complete Fraktur chart]
* [ Website of Dieter Steffmann] (in German), which has a large number of [ digitized Fraktur fonts]
* [ Fraktur and German Script]
* [ Blackletter: Type and National Identity]
* [ Delbanco: German Purveyors of Fraktur fonts] De icon
*Bain, Peter and Paul Shaw. "Blackletter: Type and National Identity." Princeton Architectural Press: 1998. ISBN 1-56898-125-2.
*Fiedl, Frederich, Nicholas Ott and Bernard Stein. "Typography: An Encyclopedic Survey of Type Design and Techniques Through History." Black Dog & Leventhal: 1998. ISBN 1-57912-023-7.
*Macmillan, Neil. "An A–Z of Type Designers." Yale University Press: 2006. ISBN 0-300-11151-7.
* [ Setting up Microsoft Windows NT, 2000 or Windows XP to support Unicode supplementary characters]

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