Meeker & Associates and Terminal Design, Inc. developed a new typeface system for all National Park Service publications, exhibits, and signage. The text family for publications, exhibits, the web, and other media allowed the NPS to reduce the number of typefaces from seven to a roman and san-serif family for all applications. The version of NPS Rawlinson that was developed for road sign legends is called NPS Roadway. Research showed that it increased legibility for older drivers by 12 percent over prior standards while reducing the size of the sign. Road guide signs build on a modular grid system that accommodates wayfinding requirements in parks.
Designing a roman typeface for road signs requires that the font that can carry stroke weight (1:6 ratio +/–) without looking heavy and losing character. We began the process of developing a new type system by showing the NPS design staff four typefaces that would work for print media and could be adapted into a road sign version. These included: Cheltenham, Plantin, Century Oldstyle, and Sabon. The NPS selected the most delicate: Sabon. NPS Rawlinson reflects influences from Sabon and incorporates modern (1870) influences of Plantin. This photograph shows early variations of NPS Roadway being installed for a field review by human-factors and optics experts.