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Typeface Spotlight

A New Typeface Designed for Split-Second Legibility

Thursday 10th April 2014

In a journey from game console to steering console, one little typeface transformed to meet the need for speed.

Introducing Burlingame

Burlingame family by Monotype

A few years ago, Monotype’s type designer Carl Crossgrove began work on a new typeface as part of a proposal for a major gaming platform. When the client went with another direction, the incomplete family of sketches and files faded quietly into the background. But like all game heroes, it respawned – acquiring more power and agility than before.

We’re talking about Monotype’s newest typeface Burlingame. Released this week, not only does it stay clear even when rattling up the highway, but it also scales from captions on mobile to headings on jumbotrons and still looks amazing.

36 deep for design flexibility

The Burlingame family is strong, sturdy, and hyper-legible. It feels contemporary and masculine, and we’re more than a little charmed by those divots clipped out of the letterforms. So sharp and bad boy.

Weights & styles

A selection of Burlingame weights

Available in 36 weights and styles, including Thin, Regular, Bold, and Extra Black shown here

It’s also wicked robust, comprising 36 weights and styles (including Regular, Medium, Thin, Light, Semi-bold, Bold, Extra Bold, Black, Extra Black, and 18 Condensed variants). Across its four character sets, you get a whopping 108 web fonts to work with, giving you all the flexibility you need to make subtle design choices.

Built on science

Burlingame was revived when Monotype began work on a typeface for an automaker. The team was only meant to replace the regular and bold weights being used in things like the mileage, speed, service, and radio displays on the driver’s console, but instead they took the face further.

Humanist vs grotesque square characters

In testing, open, generously-spaced humanist typefaces with clear letterforms, like Frutiger (bottom) performed better than square grotesques like Eurostile (top).

Using the old sketches as his starting point, Crossgrove began applying the findings of a 2012 study by MIT to his design. The study looked at the affect of typeface design on drivers’ glance times at in-vehicle displays. Humanist typefaces reduced glance time by 13% among the male participants compared to the square grotesque faces more commonly used in car consoles.

So he modified Burlingame from its original form—thoughtfully folding in the humanist characteristics found to aid legibility, like generous spacing, open characters, solid shapes, and unambiguous forms.

Great for UI, microcopy and even low res

Dozens of subtle details in the glyphs ensure optimum legibility on digital displays and clearly differentiate shapes for error-free reading.

Burlingame glyphs

Glyphs were carefully designed to ensure easy differentiation when viewed quickly.

For example despite being a sans serif, the lowercase ‘L’ is footed with a wee tail to differentiate it from the lower and uppercase ‘i’. The ‘c’ and ‘s’ are nice and open to avoid confusion with ‘o’ and ‘g’ when set small, and the number “1” sports a flag up top and foot serifs to set distinguish it from a ‘lowercase ‘L’ or uppercase ‘i’.

Its open apertures and counters, and large x-height, make it extremely easy to read, even when set at a tiny 9px. And thanks to those exaggerated details, Burlingame can also handle the rigors of low-res environments.

Burlingame paired with PMN Caecilia eText

Burlingame renders beautifully on small screens. Try pairing it with PMN Caecilia eText, as seen in this mock mag layout we created for our last webinar.

Perfect for web and mobile contexts too

Although the typeface’s generous spacing and openness were a response to the need for lightening-quick glances at automotive displays, these attributes make it a superb fit for the increasingly distracting contexts folks consuming web content find themselves in.

Your readers may not be moving at 70mph, but it’s a safe bet that they’re practically never 100% focused on what they’re reading while sitting perfectly still in a comfy chair, either. Instead, they’re reading on their phones during bumpy commutes with one eye on the stops, while walking through town and airports, and a million other multi-tasking scenarios. A typeface that remains legible when we’re in motion and on the go is a real treasure, and Burlingame does the job brilliantly.

Try Burlingame now

You can design with Burlingame in your browser straight away using our free demo . It pairs beautifully with Malabar eText, ITC Legacy Square Serif, PMN Caecilia eText, and Neue Aachen Black.

And remember, if you’re on a Typecast Personal, Studio or Agency plan, you’re already licensed to use Burlingame on your live sites for free as part of your bundle. Win!

For more about the typeface and its designer, visit the official Burlingame page. Or head on over to to buy and/or license it.

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