The Road to Clarity

October 24, 2007

typeface legibility

As young readers we learn to make sense of words by memorizing shapes and vocalizing each individual letter in order, one at a time, until the entire word is formed. As we learn, we become able to recognize entire words at a glance, based on familiarity and context, without the need to work out individual character shapes.

Clearview, the typeface slated to replace Highway Gothic as the standard font for US road signage, takes advantage a driver’s perceptual ability to recognize word shapes, thereby allowing them to read quickly at high speeds and at greater distances than is possible with today’s signs.

Here’s a great NY Times Magazine article (registration required) about the design and testing of Clearview. Additional info and a commercial version of the font is available for purchase at


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