Robert L. Peters

18 August 2010

Arial & Helvetica

From the troubled land of sans/sens…

I grew up with Helvetica (almost literally—during my elementary school years while living in Reinach [on the outskirts of Basel, Switzerland] I would pass by Münchenstein by tram twice daily; Münchenstein is where the Helvetica typeface was developed in the late 1950s by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas’sche Schriftgiesserei [Haas type foundry]).

So, while I admit to a biased preference for Helvetica over Arial (dubbed by many in our field as a “shameless impostor”) I do find it interesting to observe how much fuss some designer colleagues raise over the similarities and differences of these two leading sans-serif faces.

(I’m not sure of the original source of the image above, but it does provide a useful comparison of some of the similarities and differences in “tone of voice” of these two popular faces).

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Friend Martyn Schmoll has suggested a great little article on

I Love Typography: Arial versus Helvetica.

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