The UK’s most recognisable typeface

Take the font quiz to test your knowledge!

The P22 Johnston typeface is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. Originally commissioned by the Commercial Manager of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, now known as the London Underground, it was developed by and named after Edward Johnston, often referred to as the father of modern calligraphy.

Turning a century is, of course, worthy of a big celebration, and it inspired us at Solopress to share and discuss our typography knowledge in-house (or in other words, we had a fun font debate about it). During our conversations we asked ourselves:

What is the UK’s most recognised typeface? 

This led to a few louder discussions, and with friendships suddenly on the line, we decided to get an official answer.

Using a survey, we asked 1,000 people a variety of font related questions and made the following revelations:

Arial is the nation’s most recognised font

Whether it’s due to it being one of the first fonts in a Microsoft Word dropdown list, or because of its homely look and appeal, one thing is clear, Arial is the UK’s most recognised typeface.

Our survey revealed 33% of people recognised it, and a further 55% selected it as their go-to typeface response for the remaining questions. This staggering association with Arial therefore, makes it worthy of the title of ‘most recognisable font’.

We also looked into Johnston (of course) and the Transport typeface – which is used across the country for most road signage. We were expecting a high acknowledgement for Transport, since it’s part of our everyday lives and practically everywhere, but a large 62% of people didn’t identify it correctly.

Only 23% of Londoners recognise the Johnston font

We discovered that only 23% of Londoners actually recognised the London Underground font. Overall few regions knew the font, with Scotland and Wales following London as the most likely regions to identify it. So hopefully, after the 100th year celebrations, recognition of this font will be on the up.

Considering how important this typeface is to the capital’s identity and that Transport for London states annual passenger numbers to be at 1.34 billion, we found the 23% stat to be surprisingly low.

In Times New Roman we trust

We didn’t just want to know about the most recognisable font though. Finding the nation’s most trusted font was also on the agenda.

Despite Times New Roman having the reputation of being for university coursework only, it was nevertheless chosen as the UK’s most trusted typeface. The trust we have in Times New Roman could be due to most academic journals using this typeface, or it could be due to a completely subconscious reason but, nevertheless, we as a nation have the most faith in Times New Roman..

Explore the font database

Rather than settling our font curiosity, the survey actually made us want to find out more. So, we created four articles all about fonts and thought we’d share our font fact finding mission with you. All the recognisable typeface inspired articles can be explored on our blog:

Changing Typography

  • Different fonts, including the Johnston font, have changed over the years and here you can explore an intriguing overview of a successful typeface’s life-cycle.

Fonts that define a city

  • Think Johnston Underground is the only iconic city font across the globe? Think again, as this article reveals which other fonts out there are fully integrated into their city’s identity.

Font Heroes

  • Who are the mastermind’s behind our modern day fonts? In this article, you can discover the heroes behind the fonts, which shape our visual lives.

What the font

  • Not all fonts last the 100 year mark, and some font tweaks to brands don’t last the two week mark. . We’ve taken a look at some of the biggest font- faux pas to date.

Test your knowledge and win!

THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW ENDED

We’re proud to announce the winners of our font quiz competition and a bundle of typography books!

  • Heather Haigh
  • Alice Williams
  • Benjamin Green

We’ll be contacting the winners to claim their prizes.

Thanks to everyone that took part!

 

You can still test your font knowledge with our quiz below!

Enjoy the font-fun:

If you’ve been inspired by our font research, or want to try out what your upcoming branding messages will look like, then take a closer look at our posters’ pages to see how you can bring your marketing campaigns to life.

More on Typography

Fonts That Define A City

What The Font!

Font Heroes

Changing Typography

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2 comments, add yours.

Johnston Underground is not “used across the country for all road and motorway signage”, as you say.

The font used on most road signs in the UK is “Motorway”, designed by Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert at the Transport & Road Research Laboratory in the 50s.

    Hi Kev, we did specify that “Transport” font is used on road signage, but wrongly wrote that it was also used on motorways which “Motorway” is used. Thanks for the heads up, we’ve edited the article to reflect this!

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