I have been working on a street map at 1:24,000 and been struggling with how to make the street names legible. The majority of my cartographic works have utilized either Arial or Verdana fonts for sans serif labels. I have wondered how professional cartographers, i.e. Rand McNally, TexMaps and others can have such small annotation but very little loss of clarity.
While searching for an answer I came across the CartoTalk forums which had discussions about optimal fonts for map making. Quite a few people recommended the following sans serif fonts; Helvetica Condensed, Frutiger, Avenir, Univers and Myriad. For serif fonts there were Sabon, Garamond, Heofler Text and Kepler. Of the sans serif fonts it seems Frutiger was mentioned most often.
I checked a few online stores that sell fonts such as Adobe and LinoType, the average cost of Frutiger Standard and condensed was about $60. As the graphic below depicts, I think $60 was worth it. (I did try some of the better free fonts but they did not meet my needs) The labeling was done in ArcView with standard labeling rules, 8 pt fonts at 1:24,000. The Frutiger letters are distinct and clear, more so than Verdana or Arial. At smaller scales the Frutiger fonts keep their legibility. I am fairly happy with my purchase and will be visiting CartoTalk more often for additional cartography tips.