When designer Stuart de Rozario surveyed the fonts used in signage on London’s public transport systems, he reached a dead end. They seemed staid, sterile, lacking in personality, and ill-suited to use by modern brands.
He was pointed in another direction entirely. ‘The driving force behind my thoughts was to design something more current and fresh without compromising legibility and clarity. A font with both personality and function, that’s versatile and large and small sizes, and effortless to read, but which also says something new.’
Late for a meeting and can’t find your way? Trying to catch a flight? Lost in a hospital? Reading signs is a different business to reading a book or a newspaper. Text on signs needs to be deciphered quickly and effortlessly. So the legibility criteria for signage letterforms are different to those for normal reading, too.
Throughout FS Millbank’s uppercase and lowercase alphabets, characters have been given features for extra definition, including: wide ink traps on the A, K, M, V, W, X and Y; a serifed i, accentuated spurs on the a, d, l u; and different x-height shapes on the b, g, p and q.
Distinctive forms and generous, open internal shapes all help the quick reading of sign text, and wide, open terminals and counters allow similar letter shapes to be distinguished easily when viewed at different angles. Running down a corridor, maybe...
Standard type tends to glow on the kind of dark backgrounds often used for signage, and look heavier than its true weight. To correct the imbalance caused by this optical trick, special weights of the typeface have to be drawn for these ‘negative’, light-on-dark applications.
These are lighter than their comparable positive weights to overcome the ‘glow’ effect. After extensive tests of the negative weights, at all sizes, we achieved the right optical balance. Glowing, glowing, gone.
This wouldn’t be a signage typeface without its own set of icons, or symbols, to help people find what they’re looking for. So, to sit alongside the positive and negative fonts, we’ve created a comprehensive set of 172 icons, covering a wide range of applications from transport and user interface to information and directional. Designed within the typeface capital height, they sit on the baseline and are spaced centrally.
Fontsmith offers two kinds of fonts: Standard and Pro. If you work exclusively with Latin-based languages our Standard character set is designed to meet your requirements. However, if you work with Cyrillic and Greek typography please use our Pro fonts.
Afar, Afrikaans, Albanian, Aragonese, Aromanian, Arvanitika (Latin), Asturian, Basque, Bemba, Belarusian (Latin), Bislama, Bosnian (Latin), Breton, Catalan, Chamorro, Chichewa, Chiga, Cornish, Crimean Tatar (Latin), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Faroese, Finnish, Fijian, Filipino (Modern Latin), Flemish, Franco-Provencal, French, Frisian, Friulian, Gaelic (Irish), Gaelic (Manx), Gaelic (Scottish), Gagauz (Latin), Galician, Ganda, German, Gilbertese/Kiribati, Greenlandic, Gusii, Haitian Creole, Hawaiian, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Interlingua, Italian, Kabuverdianu, Kalenjin, Kikuyu, Kashubian, Kinyarwanda, Kirundi, Kurdish (Latin Hawar), Ladin, Ladino (Latin), Latin, Latvian, Lithuanian, Low German, Luba-Kasai, Luxembougish, Malagasy, Malay (Latin), Maltese, Maori, Moldavian (Latin), Mauritian Creole, Nauruan, Ndebele, Norwegian Bokmål, Norwegian Nynorsk, Nyankole, Occitan, Oromo, Palauan/Belauan, Polish, Portuguese, Quechua, Romanian, Romansch, Sami, Sango, Sardinian, Serbian (Latin), Seychellois Creole, Shona, Swati, Slovak, Slovenian, Soga, Somali, Sorbian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Swiss German, Tahitian, Tetum, Tok Pisin, Tongan, Tsonga, Tswana, Turkish, Turkmen, Tuvaluan, Wallisian, Walloon, Welsh, Walof, Xhosa and Zulu.
Both Standard and Pro font versions include a wealth of typographic features and are available to use in supporting OpenType applications such as Adobe Illustrator®, Indesign® and Photoshop®.