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Neue Haas Grotesk

Helvetica at Type-Writer.org

My first encounter with Helvetica came in the late 1980s, having acquired a Mac Plus computer for college. I was fascinated with this clean, unique font that was very different from the typeface on the family typewriter, a Royal Futura 800. As noted in this BBC article,

Many people attribute its popularity to Apple, and Steve Jobs’ decision to incorporate Helvetica into the Apple operating system. But the typeface had already joined the halls of design classics long before computers were on the scene.

And so it had.

The author of the article explains that Helvetica’s appeal lied in its “legibility and readability.” Often, it is the choice of web publishers who aim for typographical simplicity.

Generally speaking, I am not a fan of blogs that employ “typewriter” fonts, typefaces I appreciate more on the printed page. Using such fonts seem a contrivance; in other words, it’s not very appealing. (That said, I like the look of Munk’s website very much, so there are exceptions.) The main consideration, however, is content: how a page looks is not as important as what it says. No font is going to overcome deficiencies in content.

The digital age affords authors unlimited opportunities to publish, but the words come from within.


Helvetica is not the only sans serif font. There is also Arial1

Helvetica and Arial

Arial was designed by Microsoft, and thus is hated by many. If you look closely, you will notice differences (but more evident on this web page).

Oh, and here’s my Mac Plus:

Mac Plus

© 2014, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

  1. And any other number of sans serif fonts. []
{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Nick B March 4, 2014, 8:41 pm

    Every time I go to edit the layout/theme of my blog I feel sad because Blogger only lets me use Arial instead of Helvetica. (very entrenched in the hatred of that font, I am)

    But what I like even a little bit more than Helvetica is it’s predecessor, Akzidenz Grotesk. Over the past two month’s it’s been my favorite typeface.

  • T. Munk March 5, 2014, 5:36 pm

    I’m pleased that my blog doesn’t offend the eye too much 😀

  • Robert Messenger March 7, 2014, 8:15 pm

    This makes me feel very old. I’ve been using Helvetica typefaces (mostly Condensed, in caps) since at least 1959. Was Steve Jobs even born then?

    • Mark Adams March 12, 2014, 7:11 pm

      Barely — 1955. In college, we used Helvetica for headlines, which contrasted nicely with the Times Roman font we used for text.

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