More about fonts: Helvetica 1, Arial 0

If you’re interested in fonts, and especially if you don’t like Arial but do like having your prejudices confirmed, you might enjoy a couple of articles written by typeface designer Mark Simonson. He describes Arial as:

actually rather homely. Not that homeliness is necessarily a bad thing for a typeface. With typefaces, character and history are just as important. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor.

Here’s the full post: The Scourge of Arial.

In another post, How to Spot Arial, Mark compares Arial, Helvetica and Grotesque. Both posts were written in 2001, so before the film Helvetica was made. Indeed, thanks to that film his closing hypothesis

I can almost hear young designers now saying, “Helvetica? That’s that font that looks kinda like Arial, right?”

is now a bit less likely.

By Marian Dougan

2 Responses

  1. How interesting…. I liked the How To Spot Arial article in particular – when you see the word “Rates” written in each, you can see the much better design of Helvetica!

    1. I know – it’s fascinating, isn’t it? And I love it when an expert explains something in their field that opens your eyes to things you just wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

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