Why the same three typefaces are used in nearly every airport

By Chris Chamberlin , June 13 2014
Why the same three typefaces are used in nearly every airport

IN BRIEF | Just three typefaces make up the directional signage in 75% of all airports: Helvetica, Frutiger and Clearview.

These three font families are easy to read at a distance – see if you can spot them on your next journey.

Helvetica

Developed in Switzerland, Helvetica supposedly has a ‘neutral’ vibe, making it feel both vaguely familiar and comfortingly classic.

The distinctive lowercase ‘a’ stands apart from an ‘o’ – even from far away – with many other typefaces using a rounder ‘a’.

Frutiger

Adrian Frutiger designed the self-titled typeface for the Parisian Charles de Gaulle airport in 1975.

To match the airport’s contemporary architecture, it's characterised by protruding letter stems – particularly those like ‘l’ and ‘p’ – along with wider space for the openings of letters like ‘e’ and ‘n’.

Clearview

Clearview was developed based solely on legibility at a distance, being put to use on the American interstate highway system.

Look for the larger enclosed spaces in letters ‘a’, ‘g’ and ‘e’, and for capital and leading letters that are a little higher than the rest.

Read more: Gizmodo.com

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Chris Chamberlin

Chris Chamberlin is the Associate Editor of Executive Traveller, and lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins not just with a single step, but also a strong latte, a theatre ticket, and later in the day, a good gin and tonic.

undertheradar Banned
undertheradar Banned

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 662

clear, simple and similar/familiar worldwide...all elements essential to 'lessen confusion' of travellers as they traverse through various airports/countries :-)

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

Some departure signs remind me of an A333 landing....

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Please elaborate?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1390

At least its better than the font used in this Sydney Airport related ad

All the three fonts share similar characteristics that improved readability

- thickness, spacing (kerning)

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

How about the ones used in Hong Kong Airport, Taipei Airport and (I think but not sure) Seoul Airport?

Cathay Pacific - Asia Miles

25 Apr 2013

Total posts 544

Sorry, Seoul doesn't have that font. But Beijing does. Do a few more airports have the same font as these three airports, or is it just HKG, PEK and TPE?


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