Type in Transit/Standing at the Platform

A couple of days late, but it is finally here – the third installment of Type in Transit. This time, I’m out of the train, standing at the platform and trying very hard to click some clandestine photographs. What makes me particularly fond of the type in LED displays on the platforms is the fact that it is already disappearing. In the stations on the last leg of the Metro (going towards HUDA City Centre), the displays have fairly high resolutions. With such resolutions the joy of seeing flickering dots make up letters is all but lost.

Before I started documenting the type on the platform, I had always assumed that it is consistent throughout the network. Now, of course I know better. While the Devanagari design is common to (at least these two) stations, the one for writing English has changed. Being compared in this article are signs for trains going to Noida City Centre (as seen at Botanical Garden station) and HUDA City Centre (as seen at Rajiv Chowk Station).

Devanagari Type
It might be consistent, but the Devanagari type certainly doesn’t score very high on its design. The letters and matras are oddly proportioned, the spacing is erratic and one can’t even make out the bindu that one hopes exists in the word “centre”.

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Latin Type
In my introductory post of this series, I had briefly written about the designs seen on the platform, and had merely mentioned that these are of a heavier weight than those seen inside the coaches. Since then, I’ve had the chance to photograph the platform type at a couple of stations, and one has realized that not only are these heavier in weight but there are different designs within these as well.

Ligature
Even before the differences between the two designs I have documented so far, the very first thing that caught my attention about the type on the platforms was the “t+y” ligature (seen in the first design). The only such ligature that I can remember off the top of my head is in Zuzana Licko’s Mrs. Eaves.

Comparison
What makes it very easy to compare these two designs is the co-incidence that both displays that I photographed had the common words “City Centre”. Here are the two  overlaid over each other:

The first design has very little contrast, while the second one has strokes both 2pixel and 1pixel wide. The letter shapes in the second design have some strange quirks – there are extra pixels at practically all the joints. For instance, the joining point of the  shoulder of the ‘r’ and ‘n’ to the stem is very clunky and heavy; similar problems are visible in the ‘a’, ‘d’ and ‘u’. And finally, the letter-spacing is much tighter in the first design than it is in the second.

And finally, the letter-spacing is much tighter in the first design than it is in the second.

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Comments 6

  1. satwikg February 5, 2011

    attention to detail is awesome. Futura used to have that ligature apparently, i was once browsing through ligatures that are not used anymore and futura featured ty and some others as lost ligatures.

  2. Nikheel February 5, 2011

    Good going Pooja!
    It will be nice to find out and meet the person who feeds in this electronic system, may be some of the errors occur because of that{?} Specially devnagri one…
    Is it similar to how we type regional script in Gmail? Is it based on the way we speak & pronounce?

    • Pooja February 7, 2011

      Thanks Nikheel! That’s what I want to do next – find out where these displays and designs come from, who feeds them in the system and how. Hoping to find someone who works at DMRC and find my way into the system. Any chance you know someone who does? 🙂

  3. Nikheel February 10, 2011

    No idea Pooja!
    But just on similar front, even Red-Green DTC buses also have similar font(?) and recently I observed these bus drivers feed the route themselves (not sure they actually type or just select the options in multiple feeds). Will surely check the system next time if I get a chance. And yes if you are going to meet relevant person in DMRC to find out, I would love to tag along with you 🙂
    Keep the good work and best wishes!!

  4. Pingback: Type in Transit/A new can of worms | Its a Nerd's Life!

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