Study on Medical Typography

anythinganymore's picture

Hey again, I'm doing a study on typefaces commonly used in the medical world (in hospitals, medical research, reports, etc.) and I was wondering if anyone could point me to any typefaces commonly associated with this particular "vernacular."


Si_Daniels's picture

Helvetica all caps and similar ultra-legible typefaces. :-( Serious answer, try to contact Karel van der Waarde as he's the expert in this area.

Si_Daniels's picture

This was in the WSJ earlier in the week - pretty cool...

jasonc's picture

I don't think you'll find too many common threads in the areas you mentioned, although they are connected to the medical profession.
In the US, hospital signs (as far as room identification and wayfinding) will need to conform to the ADA. The main identification for the hospitals is of course at the discretion of whatever designer the architectural firm contracted.
Reports and research probably have common typefaces, but they'll be more related to the most common software used to produce and read them (TNR, Courier, Helvetica, Verdana, etc.)

OK, so that wasn't particularly helpful, but maybe it's a warning?
For info on Signs, you can search the articles on SignWeb, from Sign of the Times (sign industry) magazine here:

Jason C

Alessandro Segalini's picture

What kind of study, what will you use the results for ?

anythinganymore's picture

Basically I'm just putting together a series of posters (the theme being "sickness"), and I'm try to see if I can find any typefaces that might easily trigger a "medical" association.

Didn't really require an astounding amount of research, but obviously lots of humanist sans-serifs for hospital signage, etc ...

Also, probably not a font, but I was also looking at some prescription labels like this one:

Does anyone know of any typeface that recalls this sort of lettering?

Thanks for your help.

canderson's picture

Thanks for the link Sii. Bad typography can kill people.

anythinganymore, your example shows how technical limitations associated with label creation are actually what many people associate with medical text.

A lot of examples are more like this:

Alessandro Segalini's picture

To be honest, sometimes those monospaced dot matrix printer types makes me feel good, but sure, there is placement, composition, tables, &c.

George, you can browse similar typefaces in “computer related,” Telidon by Ray Larabie is one. This story/style finds a related start in 1968 when ATF produced OCR-A, one of the first optical character recognition typefaces. John Scheppler’s Orator for IBM typewriters is another interesting case ; Anuthin Wongsunkakon’ Carbon (T-26) is interesting, too, in my opinion.

A student of mine is graduating with a thesis on this (your post) topic, the title will be something like “Medical Point of Purchase.” If you want to share some information I can put you in touch with him.

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