About this typeface: Designer Patrick Griffin of Canada Type in Toronto, Ontario, along with partner Rebecca Alaccari, heads one of the most prolific, versatile, and top young type foundries today. The main character set of Griffin’s Driver Gothic shown above replicates the license plate font used by his home province of Ontario. However, it also includes stylistic alternates for 10 of the characters as shown in the font sample above, which expands the range of “impersonations” it can perform.
Multi-language support. Driver Gothic supports a large number of languages with an extended set of over 750 characters. Additionally, approximately 10,000 kerning pairs have been included (using class-based kerning in the OpenType version) for optimum fit across the same/ similar characters in all supported languages.
Mix-and-match ability with stylistic alternates. The stylistic alternates provided with the font enable it to do a good job of standing in for quite a few American states’ fonts that share the same design plan but differ in some of the details. In the OpenType version of the font, the click of a button will swap out one character for its alternate for any selected text in OpenType-savvy applications such as Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, and QuarkXPress.
American states that are similar. By our count, the American states whose font designs can be impersonated, either with or without employing the stylistic alternates, would be the 10 states listed below, a significant number:
The ad copy for Driver Gothic at MyFonts.com (purchase link at right, above) states that besides Ontario’s license plate font, Driver Gothic is nearly the same as that used in 22 American states. However, that would be quite a loose interpretation, since the majority of the curves and counters (bowl shapes that are mostly or fully enclosed) in Driver Gothic are semicircular arcs — while a number of the American states cited in the MyFonts writeup instead have primarily squarish curves, where counters are box-shaped with rounded corners.
We haven’t counted these other states in our list above, or those whose fonts use semicircular curves but with substantially wider characters. License plate fonts in actual industrial use are generally classed as either 6 or 7-digit designs (based on how many characters will fit easily on a plate), and the looks of one vs. the other can be significantly different despite similar underlying design approaches. Driver Gothic’s width is that of a narrower 7-digit font, which corresponds to those of the states noted above for which it is a relatively close match.
We also haven’t counted states that have hybrid font designs where the alphas and/or some of the digits employ semicircular curves, but other numbers (other than numeral 7) employ diagonal strokes or curves, such as a diagonal spine on numeral 2, or diagonal tails on 6 and 9. If a couple or more such numerals are present it will color the look of the font significantly. (Reason: Numerals typically comprise a minimum of half the characters present in a license plate serial number, and in some states, all.)
These quibbles obviously don’t affect the caliber of Driver Gothic’s design, of course, which is quite high on the scale and one of the very best license plate font replicas available.
Note: For further exploration of the above points about auto plate font design types, see our article classifying North American license plate fonts into 4 different categories.
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License Plate Fonts of the Western World Page: Intro | North America (1) | North America (2) | North America (3) | North America (4) | North America (5) | North America (6) | Europe (1) | Europe (2) | Australia & New Zealand