Helvetica 5, Arial 0…


Being a graphic designer, typography has been an integral part of my life for a long time.

One of my (and countless others) favourite is Helvetica. It’s hard to make a non-designer understand the beauty of this wonderful set of ascenders & descenders.

Many years ago, I worked as a graphic designer in a larger pc-based company, whose corporate identity was based around just 3 weights of Helvetica.

Following the brand for the Mac was easy. All corporate literature flowed through the Mac, and followed the identity to the letter (pun intended).

Translating this to our PC-brethren was a fruitless task (another pun, also intended).

“No problem”, they would say, we already have Arial installed.

“No”, I would politely respond, “Helvetica is the corporate font, please install it on these PC’s”.

“But it’s the same, look”, they would then show me this ‘Arial’ font, (I had little experience of Windows back then), and I would immediately, and intuitively see the differences, and realise I was talking to, in design terms, an ignorant caveman.

In the end, they installed it. I had to go higher, but they grudgingly gave up, after stalling for a couple of weeks. This was a company, who, when asked to install Acrobat Reader on all the companies PC’s, evaluated it for 2-3 months, just to make sure that it didn’t make the fragile tower of cards that Windows was (and still is), fall around their ears.

If only I had access to an excellent graphic concerning Helvetica here:

Swiss-Miss.com – Arial vs Helvetica.

The beauty, the attention to detail is incredible in Helvetica, but a didn’t realise how much until I saw this article.


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