Helvetica vs. Arial

Today I took interesting quiz: “So you think you can tell Arial from Helvetica?” hosted by Ironic Sans. It was great and I scored 19/20. I missed out at Kawasaki.

The letters which distinguish Helvetica from Arial (in this quiz) are: G, r, F, t, a, S, R, c and M. By looking only at these letters you can spot the helvetica. The differences are subtle but once you notice them it is easy to distinguish in a flash. Here a helpful chart from Ragbag:

Helvetica vs. Arial

Background

Helvetica

Helvetica was developed in 1957 by Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas type foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland. Haas set out to design a new sans-serif typeface that could compete with Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market. Originally called Die Neue Haas Grotesk, it was created based on Schelter-Grotesk. The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, had no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage.

Source

Arial

A contemporary sans serif design, Arial contains more humanist characteristics than many of its predecessors and as such is more in tune with the mood of the last decades of the twentieth century. The overall treatment of the curves is softer and fuller than in most industrial-style sans serif faces. Terminal strokes are cut on the diagonal which helps to give the face a less mechanical appearance.

Source

3 Comments

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  • # Amrinder
    says on October 12

    Haas Miedinger set out to design a new sans-serif typeface that could compete with Akzidenz-Grotesk in the Swiss market.

    The aim of the new design was to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, had no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage.

    In 1960, the typeface’s name was changed by Haas’ German parent company Stempel to Helvetica (derived from Confoederatio Helvetica, the Latin name for Switzerland) in order to make it more marketable internationally.


  • # Prashant
    says on January 29

    Hey Amrinder, nice post. Which one you recommended to use to design a website, most of the times? and why?


  • # Amrinder
    says on February 01

    I would recommend using Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; for headings (larger than 14px) and Arial, sans-serif; for body text. Helvetica is nice typeface and widely accepted, but on Windows text set in Helvetica below 16px doesn’t display well, so it should be used for headings only (or large text).

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