All about School Bus Fonts

May 21, 2022

What Font is Used on a School Bus? 

 Do you have questions about school bus fonts?
Have you ever wondered, “What Font can I use on a School Bus?”
The short answer is – Series B of the FHWA Standard Alphabets.
The longer answer, well, we’ll get to that a bit.

Every U.S. School Bus can use Series B of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Alphabets for lettering and labeling.
Most States call for using FHWA Series B in their legal guidelines for School Bus Standards. 




Can Highway Gothic B be used as a substitute for Series B of the FHWA Standard Alphabets? 

Highway Gothic B is a proper substitute for FHWA Series B.
Unless you have older CAD software or can purchase expensive Sign Layout and Manufacturing programs, you probably won’t have access to get FHWA Standard Alphabets.
You can use Highway Gothic Typeface in place of FHWA Alphabets.



Is Series B of the FHWA Standard Alphabets the only approved School Bus Font?

 No. Many States allow different lettering styles to be used when labeling School Buses. Of course, always check with your inspector or State Transportation Office if there are any questions.





What is FHWA Series B?


In the 1940s through the early ’50s, the U.S. Government set out to standardize traffic sign lettering. The goal was to create an alphabet (font) that could be easily read and would be used across the U.S.
After many years of testing, they chose a slightly modified version of the Gothic-style alphabet. A bit of tweaking here and there, and voila! the FHWA Standard Alphabets.
The FHWA Alphabets comes in different variations or styles, called “Letter Series”. The B series is the most narrow and condensed.
A lot went into the design of these alphabets. Visibility of Sign letters at distances, how letters pair when creating words, spacing, roundness, years of practical testing… and much more.


Read Fast and Easy
The FHWA Alphabets helps drivers safely navigate at freeway speeds by quickly identifying sign information.

I heard that I can substitute Clearview for FHWA Standard Alphabets. 

Not quite, while Clearview is an excellent Font, the MUTCD team at the FHWA didn’t find a significant advantage in using Clearview. Some states have approved the use of Clearview in certain applications, but, as always, check with your local inspector or State Transportation department if you have any questions.



School Bus Fonts: The Longer Answer

 For many moons we at Yellow Bus have been asked, “What Font is used on our School Bus?”
This is always a tricky question to answer. 30+ years ago, when we painted School bus lettering, we didn’t even have a proper name for the lettering we painted, we (cleverly) called it “Hand Painted”. In California, the law states that you may use a substitute to Series B, so long as it is legible… well that’s pretty subjective. For Hawaii, we’ve supplied lettering in a unique font, in Maroon Vinyl. For School Transportation Contractors we’ve supplied Lettering that matches their company brand.
So the Long answer is:
Depending on your state laws, you may be able to choose from a wide variety of fonts, so long as they meet the height and width requirements set forth by the minimum standards for your state’s school…

also, you can definitely use FHWA Standard Alphabets Series B (Highway Gothic B)