116. More on Clearview.
Aug 13, 2007 at 05:30PM

clearview.jpgAs several of the major blogs have reported today, this past week's New York Times Magazine has a great article, The Road to Clarity, about a 'new' typeface that will be used more and more on Federal Highway Signs. I thought I would try to post a more comprehensive set of links around this subject as is Graphicology's style.

This project was actually started by Don Meeker over 16 years ago as a personal project to provide a better solution to transportation signage. Three years after that, he brought on James Montalbano to help design all the variants of the fonts during testing. The Federal Highway Administration granted interim approval in 2004 with roughly half of all states currently using or planning on implementing the typeface. Meeker & Associates is the design firm led by Don Meeker, which specializes in environmental design (of course.) And Montalbano is the principal of Terminal Design, Inc, which focuses on typeface design, font development and digital lettering. (I am  particularly found of his company's font called Enclave. Just saying.) Typographica.org ran this article in fall of 2004 about Clearview - which is particularly relevant today.

The Clearview Type System includes 6 weights, with each weight provided with a version for positive contrast applications (light on dark) with letter shapes designed for viewing at greater distance and with overglow reduced or eliminated, and a version for negative contrast applications that is designed to compensate for the underglow of light color backgrounds with black type. ClearviewHwy can be purchased online as well as studied further here - pay particular attention to the research page. Basically the designers optimized the x-height and counters of the letters as well as the length of ascenders and descenders to increase legibility from 20% further away than the font it is replacing. And due to the design, most signs would not need to be replaced by larger versions. This was a key element in marketing Clearview. (Check it out in action across Kentucky.)

The list of old fonts used for highway signs in the US include FHWA series (aka Highway Gothic), Din Mittleschrift, Transport D, Univers, Helvetica and Syntax Bold. Check out this great comparo between FHWA Standard and Clearview and this one against Univers.

Personally, it's not a typeface that I consider to be aesthetically pleasing in an artful sense – I can't imagine using it in a text layout – but it does seem to be quite functional, and a huge improvement over yesterday's signs.

Hope this is enough Clearview info for ya.

Update on Aug 14, 2007 at 08:45AM by Registered Commenterjj

Also, check out Kohl Vihn's (Design Director at the NY Times) post about the article which includes some layout scans.

Article originally appeared on Graphicology (http://www.graphicology.com/).
See website for complete article licensing information.