Wednesday, 13 July 2005

Arial v. Helvetica

Mark Simonson writes about the differences between Arial and Helvetica (and Grotesque):
Arial vs Helvetica vs Grotesque

The "a" in Helvetica has a tail; Arial does not. Also, the bowl of the "a" flows into the stem like a backwards "s"; the bowl of Arial's "a" simply intersects the stem with a slight curve. (Interestingly, the Grotesque "a" has a tail, just like Helvetica. The bolder weights of Helvetica have no tails, an inconsistency that bothers some people. Maybe it bothered Monotype, too.) Arial's "a" has always seemed a little badly drawn to me, but maybe it's just me. (Link via A Capital Idea)
On my Lotus Notes, my "Default Sans Serif" is Helvetica, and when I copy text from Word it sometimes pastes in as Arial, and the differences, while not immediately apparent, are immediately palpable: a slight smooshing of the letters, and odd little inconsistent curlicues. I always felt Arial looked slightly "off", but it's nice to have some typographic reason why.

Meanwhile, I got a whole set of catalogues from FontShop in the post. This really shouldn't be as fun as I'm making it out to be, but what the hey - woo!

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microsoft has a good site on typography:
http://www.microsoft.com/typography
they have a good article on how people recognise words when reading (no it's not using word shapes) buried in there somewhere...


Thanks TT - can't find the article unfortunately, although admitted I did only a cursory scan.


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