The type family FF Info is named for its purpose: the movement of information. Its clean, modern lines are free from typographic fashion statements and technical wizardry. It was intended originally to be used on traffic signs, in stations, on buildings, etc. As space is at a premium in such situations, FF Info Display was designed to be narrow: it requires 15% less space than most of the typefaces currently used for signs. To compensate for the compactness of the letters themselves, the spacing has been slightly increased.
Reading signs is much different from reading text. Rather than mentally combining groups of words to form a sentence, we decipher letter by letter to come up with a sometimes surprising message. For this reason, it is important that characters be clearly differentiated. This is especially so for numerals. Some letter forms are easily confused because of their similarity; like lowercase i and l, or uppercase I and the number 1. In FF Info Display, this problem is solved with a serif at the top of the small i, a slight curve at the bottom of the small l, and serifs at the top and bottom of the uppercase I. Such methods are derived from typewriter typefaces, where the dominant serifs on the i, l, I and 1 were used to flesh out the otherwise-thin letter forms, and prevent “holes” from forming in the monospaced text. Erik Spiekermann gave the same letters a similar treatment in his earlier typeface, ITC Officina.
Signs are usually read in motion, and often from strange angles. Under such circumstances, letter forms can become blurred and indistinct. Back-lighting signs has the effect of rounding otherwise sharp corners, further complicating the process of recognizing individual letters. FF Info Display was designed with such circumstances in mind: the rounded ends of the letters are less prone to distortion and the letters remain true to form. White type on a dark background appears heavier than dark type on a light background. This effect is exaggerated if the light type is back-lit. In FF Info Display, the difference between the various weights has been designed to compensate for this effect. For example, white text set in Book weight on a black background is optically the same as black text set in Medium on a white background. With back-lit signs, dark text appears thinner, in which case the Semi Bold weight would be appropriate. FF Info also includes numerous arrows in a plethora of line-widths and directions, handy for sign making.
Critique Magazine paid specific recognition to the FF Info family back in 1998. In that year, it was one of just 1% of considered designs to receive an award in their “Big Crit” contest.