Pam is a street map typeface designed as part of the masters in type design at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, Netherlands and is the typeface that you are reading now.

Maps have always contained a large amount of written and graphic information, used largely for location familiarisation and wayfinding. Like any other demanding utility design, maps need to be as clear and unambiguous as possible. They have a different set of typographic idiosyncrasies from that of a book and yet you won’t find a typeface designed specifically with the map in mind. To satisfy these demands the map maker will piece together different fonts of varying styles, weights, and sizes – cluttering the visual terrain with a somewhat clip art like application of icons and other cartographic symbols. Pam is an attempt to resolve a number of these issues whilst adding more functionality to aid the making of the street map.

Pam comes in regular and extra bold with supporting icons, arrows, borders and specific feature glyphs.

Made by Betsy

Maarten Idema III

022 697 1672

Map of the Hague
Pam – Regular
Pam – Extra Bold

The following four diagrams illustrate the four models typically used in the application of type to a street. The street, in this case, is represented by a 50pt yellow line. In Pam there is a proportional relationship to the width of the street and the size of the font. 50pt Pam fits a 50pt street without needing a baseline shift. 

Pam comes in three styles. These styles help in the proportional application of type to street maps in models two through four.

Model 1: Applied above the street

Pam applied above the street

Applying the name above the street line is a flexible method that allows room for long ascending, descending and accented characters. The disadvantages are that in tight areas street names can be confused with neighbouring streets; there is less of a hierarchical difference between a street and a place name and the overall composition can look scrappy.


Model 2: X-height fits within the street
Shown here using the style PamXS (X-height shift)

Pam XS – from baseline to x-height

Making the x-height t the street height is a good method for maintaining larger text sizes and is surprisingly easy to read. This method is commonly favoured by countries that use accented characters. Pam has small ascenders and descenders so protruding street elements still look tidy. 

Model 3: Cap height fits within the street
Shown here using the style PamCS (Cap height shift)

Pam FS – Full shift from baseline to cap height

To make a neater and seemingly larger text area the map-maker will often use capital letters. The downside, however, is that capital letters are much harder to read than there lowercase brothers. All caps are commonly used in countries like Holland and England where the use of the accented character is rare. 

Model 4: The full em fits within the street
Shown here using the style PamES (Em square shift)

Pam ES – Em shift

This style of application is not commonly used on small maps because it generally doesn’t work if the applied typeface has long ascenders and descenders like those in Helvetica. This model can be seen in use on the larger Gemeente street maps displayed on footpaths around the centre of the Hague.

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