Typeface Review

Clear Sans

Words + Photos by Michael Surtees | 03.16.14
Having spent time recently focusing on dispersed levels of data, I was drawn to Clear Sans for its practical nature. The different weights between light, thin, regular, medium, bold, and even italic offer great options for both readability and contrast, making all sorts of type and numbers easy for users to digest. More and more I noticed that I didn’t have to squint the way I usually do with fonts that I tend to see used a lot for dashboards, analytics, and other user interfaces. One trick seems to be to use type in “playful” ways, set large; Clear Sans feels grown up and swings to the other side of the spectrum.

Experimenting, I noticed an efficient use of space both vertically and horizontally. In terms of line height, the short descender space of the ‘g’ and ‘p’ work to keep things compressed while not feeling crushed, thanks in part to the large bowls that keep the characters open. Letters like ‘m’ and ‘w’ adapt well to ‘a’, ‘c’, and ‘e’ and help to keep words tight (in a good way). I also noticed that Clear Sans remained readable whether sitting on a flat background or on busy imagery. The sharp angles of ‘n’ and ‘u’ also made the face stand out for me.

The sensible nature of Clear Sans makes it easy to work with. Aside from the technical attributes, it doesn’t try to feel too “techie” with irrelevant flourishes. Each letter has a nice detail but doesn’t overpower the next letter. If I use words like “efficient” and “practical” a lot here, it’s because they give a good overview of what each character is like viewed up close.

This review of Clear Sans was originally published for Typographica's favorite typefaces of 2013. For quite a few years Typographica has invited an assortment of people to talk about their favorite typeface. This year is no different with the eclectic mix of different typefaces mentioned. Read them at your own pace at typographica.org/features/our-favorite-typefaces-of-2013/

Additional Design Writing
Review of the Typeface Aften Screen
Aften Screen cuts through the majority of bland screen-only fonts by being confident enough in what it chooses to display as much as in what it doesn’t show.
Designers Should Be Using Both iOS and Android Together
Earlier this spring I switched mobile operating systems from iOS to Android for my phone. I had been used to the iPhone for a couple iterations but decided to switch to a HTC One as I wanted a larger clear screen. I’m still enjoying my HTC One and I have no regrets changing.