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Typeface Display

Research & Design

In the preliminary research plan, it was assumed that the comparison typeface(s) would be from an existing sans serif typeface based on most probably a European example. Though many typefaces were reviewed — Syntax, Avenir, Thesis, Frutiger, British Transport, Normschrift, Univers, etc. — none provided an effective comparison to the standard highway fonts based on stroke, letter width, open shape of counters, and neutrality in character. We desired a simple looking typeface, but one with character and a subtle differentiation between letters to improve word recognition.

Metamorphosis of Design:
FWHA Standard Highway Alphabet E-modified to ClearviewHwy

Based on these requirements the project team began by designing two mixed case typefaces that were similar in weight to FHWA Standard Alphabets, Series D and Series E-modified. The letter designs were prepared using a series of proportional templates that were not based on other typefaces, but were designed with attributes to aid viewing from a distance. Special emphasis was given to the design of the most critical lowercase letters “a, e, and s,” the design of the counters, the relationship of ascender to the lowercase “x,” and the geometry of the stroke convergence in order to minimize halation. The resulting product were two typefaces that were named Clearview-Bold, a full width version, and Clearview-Condensed, a condensed version. Once the final designs were developed, nearly ten years later, the typeface was named ClearviewHwy ILLUSTRATE Box with e-m and cv 5 D and Cv3.

The experimental design plan included legibility and recognition tests to accommodate both the known and unknown components of guide signing. Legibility is the point at which a viewer can read an unknown legend based on identifying each individual letter and reading the word. For guide signs or street name signs, recognition is often more important because a viewer is looking for a destination name. The recognition process is the marriage of the viewer’s mental picture of a word and the physical word on the sign. Recognition distances (seeking know destination name) with mixed case legends are as much as twice the legibility distance (seeking unknown destination name).

After an experimental design was developed by the research team, subjects viewed actual sign panels on the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute (PTI) test track. These studies, in which half of the subjects were older drivers, were based on actual words with three distinct patterns of ascenders and descenders, and with the necessary complexity to test a viewer’s ability to recognize word patterns using both Clearview and FHWA Standard Alphabets. Viewers were asked to read signs from a car moving slowly toward the panels in the legibility studies, or were asked to identify the position of a particular word on a panel with three words in order to test for recognition.

Subject recording response to computer simulation test for word recognition

Experiment developed to test subjects speed of recognition. Test was designed to reduce the number of variables needed in an actual field test (track) environment.

Subjects in automobile recording distance at which test words become legible on test track.

Testing for maximum legibility by increasing or decreasing letterspace.

The effects of night brightness materials on legibility during nightime viewing.