The original drawings for the Clearface® design were a collaboration between Morris Fuller Benton and his father, Linn Boyd Benton. As the driving force behind American Type Founders (ATF) during the first part of the twentieth century, the Bentons sought to create a new typeface that was utilitarian and easy to read.
Most contemporary type designers draw the medium weight of a new design first, and then build the rest of the type family on this foundation. However, the Bentons started with Clearface Bold. They introduced the rest of the Clearface family, one design at a time, over the next six years. As a whole, the family was serviceable, but it lacked the continuity we expect from current typeface designs.
In 1978, under license from ATF, ITC commissioned designer Victor Caruso to re-draw the Clearface family to rectify its various design inconsistencies. Starting with the medium weight, Caruso developed a family of four weights with harmonizing italics.
Caruso’s work refines the Bentons’ original design into a unified family that is well suited for both text and display settings. The ITC Clearface design is slightly condensed, making it an excellent choice when space is at a premium. It features small yet sturdy serifs, a large x-height and modest contrast in stroke weight. ITC Clearface also contains several “identifying characters” that distinguish it from other faces, such as the upturned ‘a,’ old style ‘e’ and ball-terminal ‘s.’
The ITC Clearface family is now available as a suite of OpenType Pro fonts, allowing graphic communicators to pair its versatile design with the capabilities of OpenType. These fonts offer automatic insertion of ligatures and alternate characters; they also include an extended character set that supports most Central European and many Eastern European languages.