Fonts that can be read at a distance
November 8, 2011 9:19 AM   Subscribe

Looking for the best font for long-distance viewing on a projected document.

As part of the registration process for a gaming convention, we are using a projector to show the open slots left for each game. The screen is some distance from the participants, so we plan to make the image as large as possible, within the limitations of screen size and throw distance of the projector.

Some of the game titles are pretty long, and we are doing what we can to abbreviate without losing content, but we would like to find a font that would assist with readability. Any font gurus out there who can suggest a very readable font for use at a distance? Is there a difference between readability on a personal screen and readability on a projected screen?

If it matters, we are using a Microsoft based computer to create the document.
posted by blurker to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Gotta go with Helvetica on this, frankly. It just plain works for clear communication and signage, even at a distance.

Since you're on Windows, you'll probably have to make-do with MS's bastard Arial, though.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:22 AM on November 8, 2011

Clearview was developed by transportation researchers for the Federal Highway Administration specifically for legibility at a distance and decreased halation (which could possibly occur with a bright projected image in a dark room). It's not cheap, though.
posted by zsazsa at 9:35 AM on November 8, 2011

There are some fonts that try to emulate the highway fonts. Roadgeek is one.
posted by rmd1023 at 9:53 AM on November 8, 2011

Clearview is good. But you have to pay for it.

Arial will probably work. But it's an ugly abomination.

You probably have Franklin Gothic installed on your machine. Try it out. Higher x-height than Arial/Helvetica, making it more readable at a distance, also narrower than Arialvetica so should you should be able to fit more words in the same space.

Another decent choice would be Calibri.
posted by kpmcguire at 9:54 AM on November 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Segoe UI.

It's very similar to Frutiger, which is an attractive typeface designed for airport signage and the like. Segoe also has some minor touches to help solve letter differentiation problems like “Ill” looking like three of the same letter.

It's easier to read than Helvetica/Arial, narrower than Verdana (which has many of the same letter-differentiation features) so you can fit more into a tight space, and it comes with your Microsoft system.
posted by zjacreman at 11:34 AM on November 8, 2011

Also, Ray Larabie has just revamped and upgraded his (free!) take on Highway Gothic, Blue Highway.

The American brain is able to read this font at long distances, high speeds, and subpar conditions. Worth a shot.
posted by zjacreman at 11:45 AM on November 8, 2011

You may want to get a copy of Johnston, which is the typeface used on the London Underground.
posted by jadepearl at 11:50 AM on November 8, 2011

Some really good ideas here - thanks! I hadn't thought of roadsign fonts, but that's a great idea. Keep 'em coming if you have any more!
posted by blurker at 1:02 PM on November 8, 2011

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