Who would win in a fight between Helevetica and Arial?

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2005/09/19 15:13 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2005/09/19/471422.aspx

You be the judge. :-)

Like Nathan, I'm not entirely certain what the point of this web site is, or how one might win. But it is an interest in distraction, if nothing else.

Personally, I prefer Helevetica. But I freely admit that I may or may not be able to tell the difference between them in any given circumstance, which would indicate that possibly I'm deciding it based on the name or some other irrelevant distinction....

(The Scourge of Arial has a lot of the backstory for those who are interested)

# Maurits [MSFT] on 19 Sep 2005 3:23 PM:

What a strange game... the only winning move is not to play.

# Michael S. Kaplan on 19 Sep 2005 3:27 PM:

How about a nice game of chess?

# tzagotta on 19 Sep 2005 3:44 PM:

Maybe I'm being unsophisticated, but I prefer Verdana to either of these, because most of what I read is on the screen, and I think that Verdana is more readable than these other typefaces.

I've even switched over to using Verdana for programming - which was strange at first, but now that I've switched over, there is no turning back!

# Klaus H. Probst on 19 Sep 2005 4:14 PM:

Verdana?? Wow =) If you're looking for the ultimate developer fonts I recommend http://www.proggyfonts.com/. I use ProggyCleanTT@12pt for all of my editors and the 'co' versions for my various Win32 console windows.

I also use them on my two Linux boxes (ouch) for vim editing, as well as on the GNOME/bash console (which accepts proportional fonts).

# Travis Owens on 19 Sep 2005 4:14 PM:

Considering the site itself admits Arial and Helevetica are the same font, any discussion on the subject is just silly.

But to address tzagotta....
Arial is a better font for reading, verdana is better for one or two words or extremely small lettering. Any coder will tell you verdana is a HORRIBLE font to use as it's not monospaced and I'm pretty sure it doesn't crossout it's zeros. I find Lucinda Console to be a good programming font.

# Gabe on 19 Sep 2005 4:15 PM:

Arial wins because it has better hinting, and that makes all the difference.

As far as I recall, though, Helvetica was not shipped as a screen font; it was a printer font with bitmaps for a few select sizes. Apple didn't ship PostScript fonts -- Adobe did. Apple's fonts were named after cities: Chicago for the system font, Geneva for the Swiss (i.e. sans-serif Helvetica-like) font, Monaco for the mono-spaced font, etc. When Apple shipped TrueType, they also shipped TT versions of Chicago, Geneva, etc.

So when an Apple user wanted a font that looked good on the screen, they would choose Geneva because Helvetica only looked good at a few sizes (unless they had ATM). And even if you had ATM, PS Type 1 fonts didn't have the hinting options to make them look as nice on-screen as TrueType could. For some reason Macs (possibly due to PostScript) could not properly kern Geneva when printing it out (some letters squished together, others had large gaps between them), so you would have to use Helvetica when printing.

Either Microsoft or Monotype knew what they were doing, though, because Arial looks good both on the screen and on the printer. Perhaps it is the Bud Lite of fonts, but it looks fine no matter what hardware or software you use. The same could not be said of Helvetica. Who wants to use a font that only looks good when printed on a PostScript printer?

# Rosyna on 19 Sep 2005 8:12 PM:

Lucida Grande. Seriously, I hate helvetica and arial so much I developed Silk (http://www.unsanity.com/haxies/silk) just so I could make all the ugly fonts (Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Geneva) appear as the Lovely Lucida Grande.

# Michael Dunn_ on 19 Sep 2005 11:27 PM:


Arial wins

Flawless victory


# Chris Nahr on 20 Sep 2005 3:13 AM:

Thanks for the link! Very interesting article... I didn't know that TrueType came about because Adobe wouldn't release the Type 1 format, nor that so many exact Helvetica clones existed.

Anyway, Helvetica and Arial are both horrible fonts, born out of the demented aesthetics of the 1960s and fit only for station signs, but Arial is (by a small margin) the more horrible of the two. The best that can be said about them is that they're better than Comic Sans.

# Rosyna on 20 Sep 2005 4:14 PM:

Saying they're better than Comic Sans isn't saying much. If I had to choose between two fonts I hated, I would choose Helvetica any day. The kerning on Arial sucks horribly.

# Jerry Pisk on 21 Sep 2005 2:15 PM:

Travis, a lot of coders use fonts that are not monospaced to write their code. Not the majority but a sizeable chunk.

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referenced by

2008/10/12 I'm not Arial, I'm HEL-𝔉𝔲𝔠𝔨𝔦𝔫𝔤-VETICA, baby!

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