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New Typeface for US Highways.
Filed under:  Type-Emblems
Comment(s): 5

Type designer James Montalbano announces that after years of development, the US Federal Government has finally given official interim approval for his Clearview to be used on all Federal roads. The ClearviewHwy site covers some of the extensive research Montalbano has presented at various type conferences.

great bend angled

Exit 230, Great Bend Susquehanna sign.

The Clearview Type System includes 6 weights, with each weight provided with a version for positive contrast applications (light on dark) with letter shapes designed for viewing at greater distance and with overglow reduced or eliminated, and a version for negative contrast applications that is designed to compensate for the underglow of light color backgrounds with black type.

The Development Team: Clearview was designed and developed by an interdisciplinary team including perceptual psychologists, traffic engineers, type designers, graphic designers, vision experts and optics engineers. Primary research was conducted by the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute and the Texas Transportation Institute.

The ClearviewHwy font software was developed by the Clearview design team. ClearviewHwy font software is fully compatible with all SignCAD products. The ClearviewHwy fonts are displayed in SignCAD with full dimensions and with tables showing letter widths and spacing. The Clearview fonts are scaleable for both English and Metric formats.

The following have already adopted Clearview:
- Texas (statewide)
- Pennsylvania
- British Columbia
- Toronto (older version)
- Yukon
- other Canadian municipalities

It could take years before it appears elsewhere, as individual states must decide whether or not to make the switch. They are not required to do so.

(source: )

Text to be Read at 60 MPH.
James Montalbano; "In my work designing highway typefaces, it has been my experience that a text typeface makes a terrible highway typeface, but a highway typeface makes a pretty good text typeface."

Clearview, a design Montalbano has honed and tweaked for 8 years. The effort has paid off.

The U.S Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved ClearviewHwy for use on the Federal highway system. Versions of the font are already in use by transportation systems in parts of Pennsylvania, Toronto and Dallas. Montalbano is developing a website to show off Clearview.

Clearview type is trademarked by Meeker & Associates.

James Montalbano is principal of Terminal Design, Inc. His Brooklyn NY firm specializes in typeface design, font development and digital lettering. James has designed custom fonts and lettering for editorial, corporate, government, and publishing clients including: Vanity Fair, Vogue, Glamour, Brides, Fortune, and Money magazines; Little Brown & Co. Inc., Scribner, JC Penny, Miller Brewing, The American Medical Association and The U.S National Park Service.

Over the past ten years he has been working on the Clearview type system that includes the FHWA-approved ClearviewHwy for roadway signs, ClearviewOne for text and display and ClearviewADA for wayfinding and signage. Montalbano is a past president of the Type Directors Club and currently serves as its Chairman. He teaches type design and digital lettering at Parson School of Design.

flushing ave.gif

Flushing Ave sign comparison.


Wingdale sign comparison.


Cascade sign comparison.


Brayslide sign study.

clearview system

Clearview type system.

line space 1

Clearview line space.

conceptual applications

Clearview conceptual applications.


Clearview ONE highway.

bergaults 2

Clearview series E and W.


Clearview series B, C and D.

  Interim Approval for Use of Clearview Font for Positive Contrast Legends on Guide Signs.
  Clearview Typeface Supplement.
  Clearview story.
  James Montalbano is principal of Terminal Design, Brooklyn NY

Excellent article. We quote you as a source in
Keep on the good work.

CT3170 days ago

Thank you.

Bob3167 days ago

Personally, I hate clearview, it's an ugly font and it's a waste of money to fix a problem that doesn't exist. "Change for the sake of change." It also changes something which is uniquely American and makes it "just like everyone else." If someone cannot read the signs on the road, they shouldn't be on the road in the first place! Duh!!!

2920 days ago

Bob: Obvious troll is obvious.

The "Road Work" sign is a good example of why this is important. The previous sign was in all caps with no visual hierarchy, whereas the second is more readable (mixed case) and gives emphasis to the subject ("road work") and number of miles. If you were flying past either of these signs and only caught a glimpse you'd be more likely to get the point if you saw the newer sign.

And like the article points out — while you typically don't struggle with reading road signs, there are people who drive in bad weather or with vision impairments. Making things easier (& safer) for the fringe cases without increasing difficulty for everyone else is certainly important. It's downright democratic.

Rich2200 days ago

I'm with you, Bob. Does that make me a troll Hans v?

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