Road Signage Dissertation-Please Help

Lorcs's picture

Hello,
I'm looking for some help with a dissertation I'm doing on the design of the road sign. If anybody has any info on books, websites, articles, etc. that might be of use to me, please throw them in here.
Thanks.

afonseca1974's picture

Didn't read it but very usefull information. At least to start the search:

Visual Function: An Introduction to Information Design
By Paul Mijksenaar

See it at
http://books.google.com/books?id=-j7JcB2al7sC&pg=PP1&ots=7zkuczWIME&dq=Visual+Function:+An+Introduction+to+Information+Design&sig=naIYHnWqIrb_2dcW2tf8pwM630A#PPA26,M1

António

Nick Job's picture

Massive topic...can you be more specific?

Nick Job's picture

As far as font legibilty etc is concerned...
http://typophile.com/node/14300

Nick Job's picture

Bit more history here.

Nick Job's picture

There's always Wikipedia.

Sorry these are very British. James M has got to be your man in the States.

.00's picture

Have you looked at the MUTCD? (Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices) its a mega tomb and not very modern but it does describe what is currently in place on the Federal Roadscape. Don Meeker, my partner in the Clearview project has developed a proportional grid design system he is currently trying to get the Feds to adopt. I know the system is very modular and basically sends a good portion of the MUTCD to the waste bin.

There may be some useful information on our Clearview web site:

http://www.clearviewhwy.com

blank's picture

I recently asked a similar question and got plenty of great responses, have a look.

Lorcs's picture

Thanks for all the replys.
To be more specific, I'm looking at :
-the history of the road sign-where the designs came from,
-the road signs in Ireland-European and Irish rules and regulations regarding the road sign,
-Readability and legibility of the signs-how they're affected by speed, size, positioning, colours, etc.
-Problems for road users
-Technological developments that coould help to communicate with the road user

Thanks again for all the replys. I'll have to get to reading them all now. If anyone has anything else to offer throw it in.

speter's picture

its a mega tomb

That's pretty grave, James.

.00's picture

OK so its a mega tome. But it still should be buried in a mega tomb

Lorcs's picture

Anybody have any more recommendations for books, articles, or websites I should look at? Thanks for all the help.

wolfgang_homola's picture

Ole Lund
‘The public debate on Jock Kinneir’s road sign alphabet’
in:
Typography papers 5, 2003
pp 103-126

http://www.rdg.ac.uk/typography/home.html?publications/typo_papers/index...

richsmall's picture

I recently completed a dissertation on Street name signs in England... looked into legibility etc as part of this... have a look at http://www.richard-small.co.uk/projects/dissertation/ for the full document.

Have a root around for Jock Kinnear & The Worboys committee for information on the implementation of British Road signs. I'm at work at the moment so can't help you much more but there are some articles in my bibliography that may help you.

good luck

Rich

Lorcs's picture

Cheers for that Rich. I'll have a read of that alright. I might be able to get that article in one of the college librarys, thanks Wolfgang.

Lorcs's picture

James Montalbano-I'm going to be writing a piece about ClearviewHwy. Can I get in contact with you if I have some questions?

.00's picture

I don't know what else can be said about ClearviewHwy. Articles on it have appeared in Print, Creative Review, Wired, The New York Times, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, among others. But if you think there is more to say, I can be reached a jm at terminaldesign dot com.

Lorcs's picture

Is the typeface currently in use on most American Highway signs FHWA Series E Modified? Is Highway Gothic a different name for the same typefaces?

.00's picture

The name of the typeface in long-term use on the U.S roadscape is Standard Highway Alphabet Series B, C, D, E, and EModified. Series B and C are for regulatory and street name signs. Series D for secondary roads E Modified for Limited Access Highways. Series E has fallen out of wide use. Highway Gothic is a name that is sometimes used for these fonts.

blank's picture

On a somewhat related topic, is anyone aware of objective published research that supports the idea that letters with tall x-heights, large counters and wide apertures are easier to read than smaller counters? I’m looking for articles other than the articles about Clearview, and for writing that is specific to type, as opposed to articles about psychology/cognition that can be interpreted for type.

This is an important part of my thesis, which I will post more about this weekend. Anyway, one of the judges I presented to today pointed out that these features, which typographers today have a tendency to treat as established fact, might very well be just a bunch of BS, in the same way that the notion of Helvetica and Univers being neutral didn’t really hold up after Swiss design dissipated.

Rob O. Font's picture

"... is anyone aware of objective published research that supports the idea that letters with tall x-heights, large counters and wide apertures are easier to read than smaller counters"

Not I. But the statement you make is but a subset of "the idea", dangerously cartooned in my opinion, in a way that can easily lead to brain freeze. The size of everything matters relative to the expected use of a type design for a given tone of voice...the typographic world around you should seem at least locally objective "published" proof...no?

"...might very well be just a bunch of BS..."

You planning to print anything for this judge? ah kin halp ;-)

Cheers!

blank's picture

the typographic world around you should seem at least locally objective “published” proof...no?

But that’s the problem—just looking around us and drawing conclusions provides us with anecdotal support, there’s a big difference between that and the way the Clearview team produced signs, tested them on a track, and published the results. The audience for my thesis work is organizational leaders—the sort of people who would be a lot more receptive to a designer’s anecdotes if they’re backed up by “science.”

You planning to print anything for this judge? ah kin halp ;-)

Oh, the things I am planning to do for this project… I’ll put up a big post about my thesis work soon, because I need better feedback than the suggestions I got. I’m pretty sure the Typophile crowd can do better than ”What about drawing some italics” or ”Get Matthew Carter to mentor you!”

William Berkson's picture

James, my impression is that the state of research on what fonts are most readable is very shaky, However, the research done on Clearview seems to be some of the best, in that it is solid and not BS.

It is limited in applicability, though. The tests were for maximizing legibility for a certain number of words on certain sizes of sign. And the emphasis was on what works at night, with lights shining on the words, which are reflective, with cars speeding toward the signs. And they were comparing existing fonts to specifically proposed new ones. From what I read, their results seem pretty solid for their limited brief.

Generalizing beyond this to what is readable in text on paper or on screen is problematic, but I don't think the researchers attempted any such generalization or made any claims about it.

There are a lot of problems with research in this area, but you can be too cynical too.

Rob O. Font's picture

"From what I read, their results seem pretty solid for their limited brief."
You are joking right? "cars speeding toward the signs" where? The tests I read only included truckers and trucks.:)
"comparing existing fonts to specifically proposed new ones" where? the test I read only included old sign vs. new sign. :)

"Have you looked at the MUTCD?" did you James, study this document thoroughly before making the CV fonts?

"...my partner in the Clearview project has developed a proportional grid design system he is currently trying to get the Feds to adopt."

This was done first in the Highway Gothic development, as a thinking typeman would expect. ;)

"...the system is very modular and basically sends a good portion of the MUTCD to the waste bin."

lol, What I think James is trying to say, is that the MUTCD included important guides for the modular use of Highway Gothic. Lacking such a document, Clearview can hardly live up to its name. The next interesting question, is "will having such a document beg changes to the fonts"...:)

Cheers!

missgiggles's picture

Look into signs, symbols and icons.

William Berkson's picture

David, you have a good point that they were testing specific signs, and if the spacing is messed up enough on others, it might affect the results.

What I found convincing is their conclusion that Clearview, with its medium weight and larger, more open counters is more legible under night conditions--with halation--than the heavier weight and more closed counters of the original highway gothic series E modified that they were comparing it to.

Rob O. Font's picture

"...their conclusion that Clearview, with its [agate proportions] is more legible under night conditions..."

Yes, I see that. Once you (they) have led this Push-Me-Pull-You 100 yards down the road, has it really traveled 100 yards? ;)

Cheers!

Kevin Larson's picture

"I’m looking for articles other than the articles about Clearview, and for writing that is specific to type, as opposed to articles about psychology/cognition that can be interpreted for type."

Hi James, what is the difference between studies about type and studies about psychology? The authors of the Clearview research were psychologists.

blank's picture

Hi James, what is the difference between studies about type and studies about psychology?

Writings that aren’t specific to type but can apply to type would end up requiring too much explanation within the context of my work. I am working on an undergraduate thesis with a very limited written component, so I need to keep things unambiguous, short, direct and not open myself up to arguments along the lines of “…you’re a design student, what the hell do you know about applying cognitive psychology research to letters?”

Kevin Larson's picture

Is this study about type or about psychology?
http://psychology.wichita.edu/surl/usabilitynews/92/legibility.htm

Cheers, Kevin

Lorcs's picture

Anybody know where I can get some information on Jock Kinnear and The Worboys Committee? I haven't been able to find all that much so far.

blank's picture

eye 34, winter 1999, has an great article about Kinnear, Calvert, and the Worboys committee.

Rob O. Font's picture

"Is this study about type or about psychology?"
You take 10 people (10), put their chins in a cup, slam them into a 147 dpi screen and ask them to identify typefaces that have not been evened out to present the same size l.c. ...I think you get sqaut. Can Commerce be an answer?

Cheers!

Nick Job's picture

Worboys Committee here.

Nick Job's picture

Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert here.

Nick Job's picture

Article on Designing a system for Britains road signs here.

Lorcs's picture

Thanks for those James and Nick. The cbrd.co.uk website seems to be down at the moment but I was looking at it before.

missgiggles's picture

The signage on the moterway etc are in a certain font. In the UK, they are in (is it Helvetica or Gillsans?) They are in that certain typeface for a reason. Clarity and no fuss. So when you are speeding past,t he information is taken in our brains at such a speed, we are able to decode it and read it. We would not be able to if it was in a script font. Alot of angry drivers on the roads i would assume. Also look at connotations and colour connotations. Red means love, passion but also blood, agression and many other things. So colour psychology is required too to decode a message i.e. a symbol or sign.

Lorcs's picture

I'm mainly looking at motorway signage. Transport or Transport Heavy is used in the UK, is it not? According to the article by Phil Baines in Eye that James pointed out to me, the choice of colour for the motorway signage was 'In part an aesthetic choice, in part it was suggested by the use of reflective materials and their costs...The blue chosen was the American Standard Interstate Blue Colour, which stood out from the countryside as well as giving good contrast to the whiter type.'

Lorcs's picture

Would I be correct in saying that the following are used in each country;
Germany DIN 1451
Switzerland Frutiger
United Kingdoom Transport
Ireland Transport
Sweden Tratex
United States FHWA Series
Anyone have info on other countries? Is Transport used in Australia, New Zealand and other places?

Sorry, just saw this now: http://typophile.com/node/39661

Lorcs's picture

Thanks to everyone for all the help. I handed in the thesis. Thanks again.

missgiggles's picture

Well done! Hope you get a good mark for it.

blank's picture

You aren’t going to post it for us to read?

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