U.S. Highway Administration orders return to vintage typeface


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Why not just go with Comic Sans and be done with it?


…and how did the font make the town move a mile down the road? was it really that bad?


Eminent domain?


I was thinking Wingdings.



You are the worst.


It should be done with the most dignified font:


Clearview is a huge, huge improvement on lousy old Highway Gothic. It’s more readable, it’s cleaner, and has unique letterforms for distance reading (like the little endings on the lowercase L’s).

Unfortunately, Clearview is as expensive as modern fonts tend to be. Every single jurisdiction has to buy a font license, which runs from $200-$800, and goes up depending on how many computers it’s installed on. So you’re talking thousands and thousands of dollars… versus free.




What they need to worry about are all the cities that replaced old street signs with new signs that used condensed type that is extremely hard to read. The letters are kerned for the page, not for a sign, and as a result they all mush together when seen at an angle or a distance.


Better yet, Comic Papyrus

edit* - a censored version, Comic Parchment


I was thinking something more commanding, like Impact


Why not ask some university, and task it to do the research and design a new, free-for-all, font specified by functionality?


One sign is at mile 65, t’other at mile 64.

Doest thou even read, brother?


Absolutely! It’d probably end up looking like Clearview or Interstate, or even Frutiger… all fonts that were specifically designed for long-distance legibility and proven to be ideal for the job. But if I was a struggling font designer and the government said “hi, want to create a font for every highway sign made for the next 50 years?” the licensing cash register would start cha-chinging in my head.


That’s it. There are many struggling font designers out there. At least one is good enough for the job AND willing to do it for one-time fee.


Oh, you’re totally right! I’d noticed this effect but hadn’t realized the cause.

On the interstate, Clearview seemed a bit less legible but basically the same. In smaller city signs, it sure was impossible to read. I was beginning to wonder if my eyes were going.

Now that I look more critically on the font, it seems like it needs really broad spacing to be better. Which, of course, means more $$$ for sign-builders.


This is absolutely true. The font itself is more legible, but the kerning (space between letters) is too tight. Seeing the two signs in the article, it looks better right off, but at highway distances, you need the kind of spacing used on old Highway Gothic signs. Otherwise things squeeze together visually.


This sign outside of Baltimore was originally set up as a test of the Clearview lettering:


Frutiger is used for lots of on-airport road signage, and I really dig it. There are probably Good Reasons why it’s not in universal use, but I don’t know what they are.

That having been said, it’s bananas crazy that the terms in the RFP for “design a highway font” didn’t include “perpetual license for all USian government entities,” or even “public domain”.