Helvetica or Arial

It’s amazing how many hours are spent in the debate concerning helvetica and arial. The thinking goes that because Microsoft created Arial in order to avoid paying license fees for Helvetica that this somehow makes the typeface Arial inferior.

The only useful difference is to know that Helvetica has many more weights available and so from a typographic and creative point of view that makes Helvetica far more useful to the graphic designer. But there is no evidence at all that says you can’t create good typography using Arial.

In the pages below, I’ve overlaid the two typefaces to show how similar most of the letters are. Enlarge the small thumbnails below for a closer look and click the image again to really get in close.

Helvetica is black and Arial is green.

[click thumbnails to enlarge]


On my class website I have an interactive flash document that compares arial, helvetica, univers, akzidenz grotesk and futura.

It’s worth noting that Akzidenz Grotesk predates Helvetica by about 60 years.

    • Tom
    • March 5th, 2014

    I think the main thing I dislike about Arial is the gimpy leg on the capital R, which always sticks out to me like a sore thumb. Other than that it’s fine.

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