New Typeface for U.S. Highway Signs


I’ve been noticing that the signs on the major roadways have been slowly integrating a new typeface. I have to say I am a big fan. After doing a quick iPhone search, I found out that the new typeface is called, “Clearview” by James Montalbane. Apparently in 2004, the U.S. Federal Government passed a law allowing states to adopt the new typeface. It appears that it’s for a good reason too.

Legibility Studies

According to, “Pennsylvania Transportation Institute In two PTI studies intended for conventional road guide signs (Figure 1), use of an early version of the Clearview-Bold (left position, original version of typeface) improved nighttime sign reading distance by up to 16 percent when compared with the E-modified road sign typeface (right position).”


Figure 1

“By allowing a viewer to read the unique footprint of the word when displayed in upper/lowercase letters, there is an increase in accuracy, viewing distance, and reaction time. The research (Figure 2) revealed that when the upper/lowercase Clearview-Condensed (upper position, original version of typeface) is compared to the most commonly used all-capital-letter typeface (FHWA Series D, lower position), there was a 14 percent increase in recognition when viewed by older drivers at night, with no loss of legibility. When the size of Clearview-Condensed was increased by 12 percent to equal the overall footprint of the uppercase display, the recognition gain doubled to 29 percent with little change in overall sign size.”

Figure 2

Figure 2

Another great post to check out is by Typographica: “Clearview: A New Typeface for U.S. Highways

2 Responses to “New Typeface for U.S. Highway Signs”

  1. 1 Paul April 23, 2009 at 11:42 am

    A lot of signs here in Texas have been revamped with the new Cleartype font but they didn’t actually change the size of the sign to accommodate the new type leading to some really awkward looking looking interstate shields…

    Other than that, I’m a real fan of this new type.

  2. 2 Refined Designer April 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

    @Paul thanks for your comment. Glad to see the rest of the U.S. is adopting the Clearview Hwy typeface. I love it!

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