I have fallen in love with typography recently and started to read more articles/blogs about it, and I found this interesting article about US highway signs, but before I jump into the topic, I want to talk about the difference between legibility and readability in Typography.
Q: how legibility and readability differ?
As far as I understand, in typographic terms, legibility measures the reader’s ability to see the text. The most legible typefaces have individual character shapes which are clearly defined from one another. And, readability measures how much the reader wants to read the text.
I just talked about the difference between serif and sans-serif typefaces on my previous blog. So which is more legible: serif or sans-serif typefaces?
You can see that the serifs make it easy to see the difference between the Is and the Ls. The serifs provide a little extra detail. Studies have shown that serif typefaces are more legible than sans serif typefaces because of the details provided by the serifs. This is why you will not see a book type set in a sans serif typeface.
A new font has been approved by the government for use on signs on federal highways, according to Typographica. An effort to improve legibility is the reason why highway typography is undergoing a redesign!
On the left, you see the current one. On the right, you see the new typeface called Clearview. Let’s compare individual letters. Look at the O in Hellertown and see how much more space is inside on the Clearview example. Look at the E, see how much more open spaces are. Notice the little feet on the bottoms of the Ls, helping the I to distinguish them as Ls.
I haven’t noticed any other Clearview signage in Orlando, I wonder when they are going to change the signs to the new ones. Can’t wait to see these in Florida one day!