Tiresias (typeface)

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Tiresias Specimen.svg
Designer(s)The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
LicenseGNU General Public License

Tiresias is a family of TrueType realist sans-serif typefaces that were designed with the aim of legibility by people with impaired vision at the Scientific Research Unit of Royal National Institute of Blind People in London. The font was originally designed for the RNIB by Chris Sharville of Laker Sharville Design Associates who was working with John Gill at the time. It has been much criticised.[1]

Tiresias is the font used in subtitles for digital terrestrial television (DVB-T), and digital satellite (DVB-S) targeting the UK. It is also used in Ireland, Denmark and Finland's national public-broadcasting company'.[2] It was also purchased by the state owned TVNZ for use on their DVB terrestrial channels. Norwegian railroad infrastructure company Bane NOR is using the font on info screens.[3]

The family includes

  • Tiresias Infofont – for information labels, optimized for maximum legibility at a distance of 30–100 cm.
  • Tiresias Keyfont – for labeling the tops of keys of keyboards, PIN pads, appliances, remote controls (features exaggerated punctuation marks, no descender on the J)
  • Tiresias LPfont – for large-print publications. A wedge-serif design.
  • Tiresias PCfont – for raster displays
  • Tiresias Screenfont – for television subtitling and on-screen user interfaces
  • Tiresias Signfont – a more open spacing for use on signs

In late 2007, all Tiresias fonts except Tiresias Screenfont were released under the GNU General Public License version 3 or any later version.[4]

The Tiresias Screenfont is expensive to license[citation needed] and was sold by Bitstream Inc., who in 2012 were acquired by Monotype Corporation. The acquiring company continues to market Tiresias on its font websites, and it also offers a similar font called Tioga.


Criticism has been levelled at Tiresias on the grounds of the lack of professional initial commissioning, the business model, the lack of italics, confusable characters, the product testing and the potential cost to end-users.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "What's wrong with Tiresias? (".
  2. ^ "Finland". 2012-01-30. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  3. ^ Bane NOR info screen css
  4. ^ "Tiresias fonts free downloads". 2009-11-20. Retrieved 2010-10-11.
  5. ^ "What's wrong with Tiresias? (".

External links[edit]