Typographic Abbreviations Series #2: VAG

This entry is the second in a series of short articles explaining exactly what all those mysterious abbreviations you come across in your typographic lives actually mean. In this installation, the abbreviation we’ll examine is VAG (as in VAG Rounded).

VAG Rounded is a typeface that was originally developed by Sedley Place in 1979 as part of the corporate branding for Volkswagen. The “VAG” stands for “Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft” (which is German for “Volkswagen Incorporated”). In 1989, the font was published for public use by Adobe. Its designers were David Bristow, Gerry Barney, Ian Hay, Kit Cooper, and Terence Griffin.

VAG Rounded is one of many fonts which come bundled with several of Adobe‘s industry-standard design programs, such as Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator. Because of the huge popularity of Adobe software (and subsequent proliferation of VAG Rounded), many designers have VAG Rounded loaded on their computers whether they know it or not. It is not surprising then, especially when considering VAG Rounded’s clean, simple, and friendly design, that it has become a very commonly used font.

While the type experts at Adobe identify VAG Rounded as “a variation on nineteenth-century grotesque sans serif designs”, its most obvious distinguishing factor is the use of rounded terminals. This design element gives it a uniquely soft and friendly feeling, making it popular as a choice for many modern logo designs and marketing campaigns (for more on this topic, see this entry on the FontShop blog by Stephen Coles).

In fact, the clean and friendly appearance of VAG Rounded earned it the choice for use on the keyboards of all Apple iBooks and 2003-and-later PowerBooks, further exposing the font to designers around the world.

VAG Rounded keyboard

Another indirect testament to the success of VAG Rounded when used in the context of corporate marketing is GE Inspira, an adaptation of VAG Rounded developed by Michael Abbink around 2002 as part of a visual identity system for General Electric. Some comparisons between the two fonts are made in the following image (from Wikipedia):

GE Inspira vs VAG Rounded

I still haven’t figured out how to pronounce VAG Rounded in my normal conversation. My immediate instinct is to make a word from the VAG initials and refer to it as something that would sound like “Vadge Rounded” or simply “Vadge”. But for obvious awkwardness-avoiding reasons I think I’ll just take the time to pronounce each letter: “Vee Ay Gee Rounded”.

13 Responses to Typographic Abbreviations Series #2: VAG

  1. Florin says:

    As a German, I never thought about all the Designers in the world, who can’t possibly know the Volkswagen-Shops and their VAG-logo. Thank you for the “insight”.
    You should try to pronounce VAG like: VAOO A GE (the G like in “gold”)… not really satisfying I know… but try to sound like Schwarzenegger! (even though he’s Austrian)

  2. Laurence says:

    Here’s my try at a pronunciation guide:

    “FOW AH GAY”

    That’s FOW as in DOW JONES.
    That’s AH as in AH WELL.
    And try to stop the GAY sound half way through.

  3. Florin says:

    yeah, that’s better.

  4. Laurence is definitely right: FOW AH GAY.

    Anyway – VAG doesn’t exist anymore since 1992 and Volkswagen now uses Futura.

    And: VAG was NOT the abbreviation for “Volkswagen AG”, it was just a name for the distribution and dealer network, not for the company itself, which at that time (until 1985) was called “Volkswagenwerk AG” and not “Volkswagen AG”.

  5. Jennifer Moody says:

    I always just said Vag, rhymes with bag.

  6. dan says:

    We say VAG rhymes-with-bag too

  7. seth says:

    I always pronounced VAG so it rymes with “badge”

  8. roberto says:

    hey fella, great article!

    …thanks : )

    i’ll throw my tuppence into the mix re pronunciation:

    “VAG” (as in VAG) simple eh

    – and i’m english so it’s gotta be right ; )

    and, on the subject of what it means…

    as an owner (well, actually it was my mum’s, but shhh) of a few golf GTi and golf cabriolets back in the day, all my (err, her) paperwork (service books, warranty cards, purchase agreements, etc) referred to ‘VAG’ as “Volkswagen Audi Group”

    thanks again and ciao for now


  9. nelly says:


    I’m a fledgling type geek so nothing I have to say on the matter should be regarded as reliable!

    However, I’ve always pronounced the letter names of VAG individally, like one does for BBC. And, like roberto, I have lived the last 20 or so years of my life under the impression that VAG was the abbreviation for Volkswagen Audi Group. So, in my naive, unconsidered opinion – Vee Ai Jee.

    Cheers for the chance to debate it though – my wife winces when I mention typefaces in polite company. 😀


  10. Bertel says:

    V.A.G Rounded was not developed by Sedley Place. The font was developed by the Swiss Agency GGK, of which I was the Credative Director at the time. A UK CI agency was involved, but it was Wolff Olins. They developed the V.A.G Logo. They also tried to attempted to introduce a butterfly to lighten up the brand, however, the idea never took off. More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VAG_Rounded . The font had been put in the public domain.

  11. Bog says:

    Bertel is at least partially mistaken. The members of the VW account at WO created a new agency called Sedley Place in 1978. VAG Rounded was designed by Sedley Place, and most notably Gerry Barney. It is interesting that Gerry Barney (and Mike Pratley) also drew most of the letters of FF Meta, though Spiekermann (who had sketched 12 characters and who was working for Sedley Place in Germany at the time) appears to have been somewhat disingenuous about that when it came to credits.

    • Bertel says:

      Nonsense, I tell you why: The public launch of V.A.G (with a campaign developed by yours truly) happened in 1978. It used VAG rounded developed by GGK. It used the VAG logo developed by Wolff Olins. If Sedley Place was founded in 1978, then it is mighty disingenuous to claim credit for a font that had been in use before the foundation of the company.

      The man who did most of the work on the font, kneeling on the floor of his 4th floor office at Immermannstr 6 in Duesseldorf can’t defend himself. He died 10 years later from an insulin shock.

  12. Sexs says:

    artık yorumlarımı alın arkadaslar….

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