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Only a type geek like me would appreciate the following: The government has approved a new typeface to be used on road signs. Read a story about it here. [Actually, that link no longer works. What kind of website deletes old content? Sheesh! —Ed.]

I find this very sad. I love the font used on highway signs. The fact that it has started being overused in ads and elsewhere is upsetting, but road signs are forever, while the whims of advertisers are flighty. The highway sign font would endure.

Well, that is now no longer the case. Looking over the PDF proposing using the Clearview font vs. the FHWA Series E font (what a sexy name!), I agree that the new font is more legible. But it has no style. It is characterless and dull. While FHWA Series E is pretty uninteresting at first glance, once you really look at it, it’s got some class. Those angled ascenders and descenders are neat. The font weight is meaty and nice to look at. It’s lovable.

Funny that I always thought it was wonderfully legible and brilliantly designed. Guess I was wrong!

What also gets me is that untold scads of moolah were probably spent researching and designing this font. And what does it look like? The English road sign font. That curve in the lower-case L, the curved lower-case G and Y… very British!

I agree that safety comes before design, but it’s too bad in this case they can’t co-exist together. At least they didn’t go with Verdana! (If you get that in-joke, you deserve a smiley: :)) [NOTE: The Wren Forum is no longer designed using Verdana, which was the in-joke. Though if your computer does not have Myriad or Trebuchet, Verdana will resurface. Thought you’d want to know. —Ed.]


chuck Expounded Thusly:

“more legible. But it has no style. It is characterless and dull”

—YEP! Sounds British to me

Tuesday, March 8th, 2005 • 5:50pm • Permalink

Steve Expounded Thusly:

Yes, indeed!

One thing I wanted to add, too: Since all the freeway signs in L.A. are in the process of being replaced, we will not have to live with the Clearface font here. All the signs are being put up in the old, classic font. Hooray!

Wednesday, March 9th, 2005 • 11:45pm • Permalink

Clearsteve Expounded Thusly:

Wow. Strange coincidence time! Check out the follow-up post hereish. (May on the previous page if they’re separated by a page break. I gotta get a real way to track back…)

[NOTE: I do now have a way to track back, and the above link makes use of this beautful tachnological update. Thank you so much. —Ed.]

Friday, March 11th, 2005 • 12:15am • Permalink

The Wren Forum » Clearview in Marketing Expounded Thusly:

[…] Well, you will not believe this! I could not bury this coincidence in the comments area of my previous post on the new highway font. […]

Tuesday, November 8th, 2005 • 4:41pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback

The Wren Forum » Intellectuals and Poor Choreography Expounded Thusly:

[…] First, a nice essay by Aaron Swartz, who always writes so well. It’s called “What It Means To Be An Intellectual.” Using Aaron’s concepts and definitions, I am proud to discover myself an intellectual, as I enjoy both contemplating items of minutiae such as the stylistic quirks of Manga and a change in the federal highway sign font, and subjecting others to such contemplations through fiendishly clever and well-worded writing. (You may or, more likely, may not be interested in knowing that while in Austin this past weekend, I saw Clearview in use everywhere and, as expected, it was just simply no good.) […]

Tuesday, April 18th, 2006 • 4:45pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback

The Wren Forum » Lots of Words on Clearview Expounded Thusly:

[…] I have before bemoaned the change, currently in progress, from the original highway font to the new Clearview font. Seeing the new font in action in Austin during my last two trips there, I have to say… I do not like it any better. Yes, it’s very legible, but it’s still dull, dull, dull. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “ugly,” but I’m very close. Some lobbying money from Friends for Fabulous Fonts could steer me to that conclusion. […]

Thursday, March 12th, 2009 • 5:32pm • Permalink • This is a Pingback


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