AARoads Forum

Regional Boards => International Highways => Topic started by: dcbjms on October 30, 2017, 09:13:59 AM

Title: RE: Mexican road sign typeface
Post by: dcbjms on October 30, 2017, 09:13:59 AM
While looking up the old Michelin signage on French roads (and finding several websites on them which I could re-expose myself to the French language again) after having a look at an old Spanish traffic signage manual (http://www.carreteros.org/normativa/noc/pdfs/otras/OC8_1.pdf) from the Franco era, my mind wandered back to Mexico's typeface for its signage.  Also, I've been (slowly but surely) building up in my font library Ray Larabie's Expressway font in most of its variants (I currently only have light, regular, book, semi-bold, and bold in the regular series and regular, book, and light in the condensed series) and I also know its a non-FHWA Series font, which also got me thinking about the Mexican road sign typeface.

Now, I know that JN Winkler has mentioned time and time again that contrary to what Wikipedia says in its Highway Gothic article (even adding a link to the appropriate MDCT section to bolster that claim) the Mexican road sign typeface is not the FHWA Series nor is it identical to it.  There are visual similarities, but that is it.  Although it would be nice to have someone look through the guidelines contained in the MDCT and create a digitized typeface of it (with appropriate coding for each of the 5 uppercase series plus the lowercase series), I have to ask - in the absence of such a digitized typeface, with only a visual look-through of the characters, if someone had to approximate each of the six series using FHWA Series typefaces (or look-alikes, but for the sake of argument the FHWA Series is the baseline), whether it be for illustration purposes or in RL applications without going through Semex, how would one go about doing an approximation?  Even if it isn't a direct MDCT = FHWA Series equivalent.  For example, in that Spanish traffic manual, while I'd like to know what that other sans-serif is that is used in a few of the sign illustrations (and with the Caracteres Cursivos for the SI symbols for ton, kilometer, and meter) that is obviously not Caractères, I can readily tell from the descriptions of certain typefaces as "ancho" or "estrecha" (or the interestingly misnamed "cursivo" even though it is serif) which of the old and new L-series of Caractères each one is supposed to be.  Can the same be also said of the MDCT series typeface?
Title: Re: RE: Mexican road sign typeface
Post by: kphoger on October 30, 2017, 03:09:35 PM
I don't have the answer you're looking for.  But, since Jonathan replied to my very first post on AARoads six years ago with this sort of information, I thought I'd link to it in this topic.

https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=575.msg124151#msg124151 (https://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=575.msg124151#msg124151)

Pertinent snips:

The MDCT calls for the SCT alphabet series, but in my experience typeface policies are not rigorously enforced.  The last time I looked into sign supply issues in Mexico in detail (at least five years ago now), there were basically three major sign manufacturers.  One used Arial/Helvetica knockoffs, another used the SCT alphabets, and the third used the FHWA alphabets.
There has been no edition of the MDCT more recent than 1986.  The 1986 edition was scanned and uploaded in PDF format about five or six years ago as an alternative to revising or reissuing it in print.  However, some Mexican state highway agencies have their own clones of the MDCT, in much the same way many American states have their own traffic manuals.
It can be challenging to differentiate between the SCT and FHWA alphabet series.  The main tells are uppercase M, R and S.  The middle point in M never reaches the baseline in any of the SCT alphabet series, as it does for all of the FHWA alphabet series except for B.  The SCT alphabet series use a large-loop R very similar to those used in the French traffic signing typefaces; the loop increases in prominence the thinner the letters get.  The more condensed (thinner) SCT alphabet series also use a straight stroke to join the top and bottom curves in S, unlike the smooth reverse curves which are used in all of the FHWA alphabet series.

SCT Series 2 is of an intermediate level of condensation which roughly matches Series D.  If words with M, R or S are absent in legend using that typeface, it can sometimes be recognized by the vertically balanced loop in 5.  In contradistinction, 5 in FHWA Series D has a very distinctive spade shape.  SCT Series 3 is one further step along in condensation and has a spade-shaped 5 which is recognizably thinner than the Series D 5 and more or less matches Series C in width.
Title: Re: RE: Mexican road sign typeface
Post by: dcbjms on October 30, 2017, 03:27:03 PM
That's a great help, kphoger.  Thank you very much!