The Compatil type system: perfect for
business reports

The Compatil type system: perfect for business reports

Typesetting annual reports always poses a number of challenges for typographers. Not only are there countless tables to place, there are also many numbers and upper-case names and abbreviations throughout the text. Popular fonts without special optimizations quickly make for a restless and patchy appearance under these conditions.
At the start of the new millennium, Professor Olaf Leu and a team of experts took on the problem and developed the Compatil® type system, tailored to financial communications. Four families share the basic letter shapes, use four different, frequently used styles and, thanks to numerous optimizations, make for a perfect typeface on paper or on screen in the challenging environment of the business reports.

Compatil Exquisit

The serifs of Compatil® Exquisit are also somewhat conical and resemble Compatil Text. However, the letters show the clear influence of a fountain pen in the ends and design of the curves, which recalls a Renaissance Antiqua. It is these allusions to the fountain pen that lend the Compatil Exquisit a noble, somewhat historical flair. This font radiates more tradition than modernity and is meant to be used with that in mind.

Compatil Fact

Compatil® Fact is the sans serif member of the family. The letters, based on the Renaissance Antiqua, have a light contrast in stroke width and acquire some additional liveliness through some slanted line ends. With its restrained and neutral nature, Compatil Fact is not only suited to headings. The friendly text is easy to read in longer texts, as well.

Compatil Letter

The linear Antiqua Compatil® Letter has strong serifs with only very slight grooves. In comparison to Text and Exquisit, the contrast in stroke width is somewhat withdrawn. In body text, the balanced and solid character of the font is reminiscent of business communication from the typewriter era. It can be used for business letters, for example. The striking and bold flair of Compatil Letter also makes for winning headlines, however.

Compatil Text

The strong contrast in the stroke width, slightly conical serifs and teardrop-shaped line ends lend Compatil® Text the character of a Baroque Antiqua. The neutral, restrained, yet sober and objective flair make Compatil Text the ideal bread-and-butter font, which is easily legible over longer passages without fatigue.

The challenges of typesetting business reports – easily overcome with the Compatil type system

The idea for the Compatil type system came about at the end of the 1990s during the analysis of business reports. At that time, Olaf Leu was a part of the team that had been commissioned by Manager magazine to evaluate reports for the “Best Annual Report” competition. He quickly realized the challenges that such an environment posed for typography. From this, he developed a framework for the new fonts: while maintaining legibility and harmony between the very diverse characters in a business report, the fonts should make different tonalities available.

As a result, the foundation of the Compatil type system is the identical base shape of the letters from which the individual styles are derived. This not only guarantees consistency, but also ensures that the x-height and weights are perfectly matched. In this way, the different styles can be combined freely.


The actual shape of the letters and numbers take the challenges of a business report into account. The frequent abbreviations are best set in small caps, so as not to disrupt the appearance. The same applies to the many numbers in the business report. Since oldstyle figures are relatively hard to read, digits in x-height with matching currency symbols are available. Long numbers do not fit the appearance of a text optically, either. Unique shapes for zero and six, as well as three and eight, provide good distinction for these easily confused characters, and not only on screen.


 Compatil Fact

  • Awarded Typeface

    Awarded Typeface

Another special feature of Compatil is helpful during the design process. The given variants are monospaced among the different styles. For example, you can exchange Compatil Fact Regular for Regular Exquisit without altering the break or alignment of tables. The various tonalities can be easily tried out and adapted to the needs of the client.

Since its release, the Compatil type system has not only gained a great deal of recognition in the financial sector – as demonstrated by the great number of annual reports that have won prizes. Daily newspapers have also discovered the easily legible and space-saving Compatil.

Here you will find information on the award-winning annual reports created with Compatil from 2005 and 2006.

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