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National Park Typeface (nationalparktypeface.com)
623 points by zwieback 47 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 84 comments

In case your brain is thinking "wait; I thought it'd be that cool scripty typeface on the oddly-angled signage?", you might be thinking of the USDA's logotype for National Forests. Unfortunately, there isn't an available font for that exact face. Some cool specs, though, in the Forest Service's design guide: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd381002...

Section 1-18 (page 24) of the linked PDF has examples of the "National Forest", "National Monument", etc. logotype; Chapter 8 has some more signage specs.

The closest font I’ve seen is Coniferous https://www.futurefonts.xyz/ohno/coniferous

Those are the exact fonts I'm looking for, for an in-lay woodworking project I'm finishing. Any ideas at all what the fonts listed on 1-18 would be called?

"Logotypes are drawings and have not been created from a standard font." - OP Section 1-17

See my comment below, referencing a StackExchange post. It lists the font the Forest Service uses for their signs.

No, you're talking about something else completely. Check page 1-18 in the linked document for an example.

Those are excellent.

There are a few more cousins of these from the HP Lovecraft Historical Society at https://store.hplhs.org/products/hplhs-fonts

I simply found the PDF fascinating for the rules of usage for the various signage applied to roads. Both for how when individual signs may be used and when signs are required based on road layout.

If you like that, you’ll love this: The Manual of Uniform Traffic Safety Control Devices: https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/pdfs/2009r1r2/pdf_index.htm

That’s exactly what I was expecting.

It's remarkable how difficult it is to find a cursive font like that. I think it looks a little like Dom Casual if Dom Casual were cursive.

Initially, Mistral came to mind (also used in the movie Drive). However, there are significant differences.

Tangentially related: there are quite a lot of good quality free software fonts out there. Some — like this typeface — are suited for display purposes, signage, and lettering. Others offer a full family of weights for typesetting body text.

I have my own shortlist of long-time favourites. To name but a few: Gentium Book Basic is a delight to read in print; Titillium adds a nice touch to technical drawings; Hack traces its monospaced code font lineage back to Bitstream Vera (through DejaVu Sans Mono), which back then kicked off a whole new period of free software desktop look-and-feel.

But I've never really found a site that collects these free software licensed fonts with curated reviews and use-cases. Sites like FontSquirrel offer a rough index, but contain no easy way to filter on more complex queries, and don't really show each typeface's strengths and weaknesses.

Does such a site or community exist?

How about https://beautifulwebtype.com/ ? "Guide to Only the Best Open-Source Typefaces"

There are also some more opinionated FOSS font forges like https://www.theleagueofmoveabletype.com/ and (slightly bizarre) https://www.velvetyne.fr/

https://beautifulwebtype.com/ looks like a neat resource, thanks. No filtering or search, but very nice type specimens.

But I've never really found a site that collects these free software licensed fonts with curated reviews and use-cases.

There's not much out there, I'm afraid. It looks like you're already aware of the sites that just list a million fonts and maybe let you try out rendering some sample text interactively. You might find sites like Typewolf[1] and Fonts In Use[2] interesting if you haven't come across them before. There's a little more curation and organisation there than on something like Google Fonts. But really, for free fonts, there's not a lot of detailed commentary in my experience. If you have specific questions or want advice about suitable fonts for a specific project, you could also ask on the Typography subreddit[3], which is fairly active and has a few people who know what they're doing around.

[1] https://www.typewolf.com/

[2] https://fontsinuse.com/

[3] https://www.reddit.com/r/typography/

That's a pretty solid review of Gentium. Nice resource.

Google Fonts has at least Gentium and Titillium.

Google fonts tends to have a lot of the really popular open license fonts.

Not that I’m aware but if you were to build such a thing I’d most definitely be an enthusiastic user.

I made something very minimal the other day because I was tired of setting up fonts in all my repos.


It doesn't have many fonts at the moment but feel free to open an issue with any font requests and I will add it to the site: https://github.com/kiwicopple/quick-font/issues

Awesome! Thanks!

Cool, thanks for making this.

This is basically the Roman Simplex font used in CAD packages, and included in the Hershey fonts.


Hershey and CAD fonts are stroke-based, so line weight and endcap style influence the appearance.

Here's a JSONized version as part of the textlines tool: https://github.com/wildsparx/textlines/blob/master/fonts.jso...

Of course CAD fonts can be used at different aspect ratios - Roman Simplex is often used at 0.85 and that may be what National Park captures.

The kerning on “NATIONAL PARK” feels quite loose, even given the context (normally wouldn’t comment this on HN, but given that this is expressly a typography related website...)

Looks fine in the demonstration area for the various weights below. There has to be some space between the lines if you were to use a router to make a wooden sign with these (the stated design inspiration).

Why would there have to be some space between the lines if you used a router?

Depending on the wooden sign material, and the desired life expectancy of the sign, close kerning might leave a narrow bit of word that could warp and chip away after a few years of exposure to the elements.

I guess I was hung up on the "use a router" bit. This is a problem with making a sign out of wood not about the use of a router.

It's especially noticeable around the T - the visual area between A and T feels like about twice that between T and I.

Specially the A-T-I part feels like it could be better.

Kerning in general seems off in many examples. Either the webfont lacks kerning adjustments or that part is a bit unfinished.

Also the first image with the quote, GLORIOUS is off between the L an O

This feels relevant here:

"National Park Service Typefaces" https://www.nps.gov/subjects/hfc/nps-typefaces.htm

The National Park Service commissioned a font, and it's not public domain? That's total bullshit.

This kind of stuff is too common. Maybe overpass will warm your heart: http://overpassfont.org/


Having recently road tripped across the country for a move to SF, I found myself admiring the design of national park signage. It feels very timeless and iconic.


That's national forest signage, not national park signage. National forests are managed by the U.S. Forest Service and national parks are managed by the National Park Service and they have different uses/purposes.


I can't be the only one that really wants a monospace version of this. Although I suppose Inconsolata is good enough...

The coordinates in that site's header take you to the Rocky Mountains National Park; a nature reserve in the United States:


AUR package for easy install on Arch: https://aur.archlinux.org/packages/ttf-national-park/

Awesome to see the university of Kansas being repped. I saw the blurb showing "KU" and thought...no way! Great job by some talented people. Thanks for sharing.

Suggestion on mobile site: either let me pinch to zoom (really frustrating when document-oriented sites disable this) or make the individual weights' previews bigger.

When editing the typeface samples it'd be great if the text pivoted to each style instead of getting set to "type here"

Interesting that not all trail signs at our NPs use this font exactly. For example, I wonder if this is a separate font carved by a router: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmmACyogjEe/?igshid=12jeudc1pasu...

Is that a wooden sign? Looks more like a painted metal sign to me.

Shoot. Guess I’ll have to go back and verify :)

Thanks for sharing your typeface, but you should not claim ownership/creation for a typeface conceived in the LEROY Lettering system. My dad used LEROY as a draftsman in the 50s through 70s so I find their claim pretentious. Please research before stating your claims. Thanks.

Leroy lettering lives!

Exactly. I had a Leroy lettering set given to me at some point. I know they were eye-wateringly expensive to buy but is a very cool thing. Super high quality manufacturing.

I still have my Leroy. This font immediately made me think of it.

love this free font, also an honorable mention to Optician Sans: https://optician-sans.com/ which is a free font based on the classic eye test letter cards from opticians offices.

This website is making my brain hurt. When I loaded it up, on my fairly wide monitor, it looked like this:

    N A T I O N A 
    P A R K
You'd think a website by a typeface designer would not have this problem...

I can't reproduce this at any window size on Firefox, Chrome or Edge on Windows 10. I can hardly fault a typeface designer for not being an expert web developer who can build a consistent user experience on every conceivable browser configuration.

Reproducible in Firefox 67 on macOS as well. "DOWNLOAD" is only in one line for very wide windows, and for my default half-screen-wide window size (960 px), the main body title renders as




Reproducible in Chrome. I have a portrait monitor set up, and it was where I default landed. That said, I think it's one of a very select set of perimeters that breaks it.

Now the "Download" at the top, he's got some explaining to do...

(Agree with your point about expert web dev. Someone who designs fonts =/ someone who designs websites. Totally different skills. Some people might do both, but assuming that would be rather bold)

I also agree, in that I don't expect a font designer to be a web dev. But I do expect a font designer to care about design, and this seems like a pretty egregious error for someone who cares about design.

This is in Safari. It's a pretty popular browser.

To reflect the snark right back: If you think Safari warrants primary support, ask Apple to provide ways to test in Safari without paying Apple for the privilege.

Microsoft got this one right when they released free Windows VMs for various combinations of Windows and IE versions.

Now, yes, it's fairly likely OP is already using macOS and they just didn't bother testing Safari, but if you want to be snarky about browser testing, be snarky to Apple first. They're intentionally making it difficult to test in Safari.

It happens in Safari, but only within a certain range of window width of about 50px.

This is great. Not gonna lie though, took me like 3 minutes to find the Download button.

OT: what does it take to design a font? I've always wanted to make my own. Is it a reasonable thing to do for an average person with an okay design taste, if I'm willing to put in the work?

It can be done, but it's not easy. There's a lot of characters (uppercase lowercase numbers...) even if you're doing only ascii and making every character look balanced with all the others seems to me like a crazy amount of work. Then you also have spacing between character pairs. I never really attemped other than the simplest logo characters to be printed in a pen plotter, but if I ever would I would probably start at https://www.prototypo.io/

You could use a parametric font tool, like https://spectral.prototypo.io/

There are others just the first I found.

> Our National Parks belong to the people, so this typeface should too.

An excellent choice. Wish other firms would follow the same policy when building on public sector work.

Interestingly, the National Park logo is a registered trademark and may not be used freely.


If you do "ab" in the lightest weight it seems a bit off, seems okay in the other versions though, could be a bug?

Does anyone else think that the lowercase b and d have an excessive x-height?

From the website, I gather this is for US national parks.

I love stuff like this, even if I never end up using it.

Well, at least it's not Comic Sans.

It's basically Arial Rounded MT Bold which is even worse imo


You lost me at "the website for a typeface".

this is likely part of a US Federal program to bring "innovative business ideas" to the National Parks system under former Sec. Ryan Zinke .. which is nice-speak for privitization. You nerds get to look at the typeface, dont worry about development leases, collecting rent or mineral rights.. thats not your affair..

It’s someone’s homage to the National Park signage, nothing more.


That's trivial though; you use a path with a circular pen, a most rudimentary thing in 2D graphics.

did you really come here to say that someone else's work of creating a production typeface package with multiple styles and weights is "trivial"?

It doesn't look like a production typeface to me.

Looking at it I feel that I could make something like it, even though I haven't done it before, simply by putting in the required time. (This is not some idle thought; I definitely do not feel that way about any other font I've seen in the last 20 years.)

It has nothing but straight lines and rudimentary curve segments and arcs, using a fixed stroke width with rounded ends.

There seems to be no attention to kerning, so chances are I wouldn't have to learn anything about that topic to make a font like this.

The kind of variation seen here among the multiple styles and weights looks like something that can be cranked out by varying some generic global parameters.

We all look forward to seeing your improved version.

That also identifies the typeface, since there’s only one typeface the National Parks use that is carved using a router bit.

(Even then, you’d still need to have the stroke data, which seems like the hard part?)

You certainly don't need the detailed stroke data just to "mimic" the appearance of a really simple typeface like this.

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