Effects of font and capitalization on legibility of guide signs

Philip M. Garvey, Martin T. Pietrucha, Donald Meeker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


The research objective was to improve highway guide sign legibility by replacing the 40-year-old guide sign font with a new font called Clearview. It was believed that the current guide sign font's thick stroke design, made with high-brightness materials and displayed to older vehicle operators, exhibited a phenomenon known as irradiation or halation. Irradiation becomes a problem if a stroke is so bright that it visually bleeds into the character's open spaces, creating a blobbing effect that reduces legibility. The Clearview font's wider open spaces allow irradiation without decreasing the distance at which the alphabet is legible. Results are presented of two daytime and two nighttime controlled field experiments that exposed 48 older drivers to high-brightness guide signs displaying either the current or the Clearview font. The Clearview font allowed nighttime recognition distances 16 percent greater than those allowed by the Standard Highway Series E(M) font, without increasing overall sign dimensions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-79
Number of pages7
JournalTransportation Research Record
Issue number1605
StatePublished - 1997

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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