Taking Balkan Beyond the Balkans

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Balkan is an unusual typeface. Generally speaking, typefaces are designed to be unobtrusive so that they can communicate a broad range of content without getting in the way. Balkan, however, is charged with meaning and purpose. At a time of increasing ideological division and separatism, this typeface strives to create unity and reconciliation: it uses single, shared glyphs to represent the sounds of the Serbian and Croatian languages which although very similar have historically used disparate writing scripts. It is a simple but powerful idea with the potential to foster communication and promote understanding between cultures.

As the name suggests, Balkan was first designed for Serbian and Croatian, but it bridges the divide between two larger scripts, Cyrillic and Latin, and has found wide use even beyond the Balkans, receiving numerous awards and special mentions for its concept and execution. Six years after its original publication, we decided to expand it to cover Russian as well. The idea of automatic transliteration of both Russian and Serbo/Croatian is interesting and challenging, and we opted for an unusual romanisation to make the Cyrillic understandable to non-native readers.

Since Cyrillic is used by dozens of languages, there is no single standard for its transliteration into Latin script. We reviewed the most common romanisation schemes to create OpenType Stylistic Sets that cover most common options for transliterating Russian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Ukrainian letters into English and other Latin-based languages.


This updated version of Balkan aims to bring even more different cultures together.

Read more in this type specimen.

P.S. If you have already purchased Balkan, you can download the updated version free of charge directly from your online account.