I’ve been trying to get my hands on a copy of the New York City Metropolitan Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual ever since Triborough managed to do so. This style bible, written by Massimo Vignelli and Bob Noorda for Unimark, is the sword in the stone of transit wayfinding manuals.

Page showing E train 179 St Euclid Ave signage and line map

Niko Skourtis, Jesse Reed, and Hamish Smyth found a copy, apparently by accident, and made it available at a single-serving Web site. But that just goes to show how print designers should never be allowed on the Web unsupervised. These guys presented this manual in the dumbest way possible save for Flash animation. It’s completely unusable. Just at the level of magnification of page images it’s unusable. (In fact, on that count it recapitulates the endless deficiency of graphic-design criticism – far-off thumbnail photographs of detailed pages.)

So I’m giving you two alternatives if you want to consult and actually read this priceless archival work.

  1. Flickr set of these three guys’ photographs, which they could easily have put together themselves and would have been preferable in the first place

  2. 94 MB untagged PDF (alternate site) of cropped images, which they also could easily have put together themselves and would also have been preferable in the first place

Now: You want the TTC’s half-assed clone of the MTA style manual (details)? I can post that, too. (Extracts have been up for a while.)

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2013.02.19 15:29. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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