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Is helvetica overrated?

@ Sunburn, you got it mate. You've been around i can tell...

@ Matt, it does have one. Not that I like it, but there it is. I take the comic sans in your avatar is meant to be ironic, is it?

@ Aarlev, he does not hate it... he's just jealous; or perhaps secretely in love with it!

@Ross, sad but true...

Anybody else?


Senior Member
My name is Kevin and this is Arial, I love you!

My name is Kevin and this is Verdana, I love you!

My name is Kevin and this is Tahoma, I love you!

What I hate most about Arial and Helvetica, is that the capital I and the lowercase l look pretty much the same. Note how Arial and Helvetica are also near identical? That's why I don't understand why people love Helvetica, but hate Arial. :down:
@ Onartis, people hate 'Arial' because it is a bastardised version of 'Helvetica' font. It is -let's say- inspired in Helvetica but some of the visual adjustments are missing.

The deal was that Microsoft needed a good all-round type but instead of paying for a license to use Helvetica they decided to do their own.

If you are using a small font sizes you will get away using Arial, but in bigger sizes you will notices how defective it looks in comparison with the original font.

As a designer I reckon that you should not have much sympathy for a rather defective copy of a good font. It's a bit like a face Nike tee.

Mike // DFCLStudio said:
@ Matt, it does have one. Not that I like it, but there it is. I take the comic sans in your avatar is meant to be ironic, is it?
It doesn't have an italic, it has an oblique; two very separate and distinct things. Obliques are merely just sloped romans.
Truth mate, it's an oblique... but I would say that it requires a bit more than sloping the fonts to achieve a balanced and appealing result -though I agree that oblique fonts are less graceful than italics.
I'm not sure that the 'italics' that come with that font are balanced and appealing though, they're glorified obliques which simply have reduced stem widths. And this is why Helvetica is lacking as a font because you can't set body text with it properly without proper italics. It doesn't even have old style figures or small caps!

It's fine as a limited display face, but sucks as body text.


Senior Member
I think its a bit of a go-to font. Its usually a safe bet but I must admit I dislike using it - There are so many fonts out there its nice to use something everyone hasnt seen a million times before.
I like Helvetica...but it has its place certainly...

I like it for display type or sub-headings which break up rivers of text. I find it to be too wide to be economical for body text (to quote from the Helvetica DVD "its heavy around the middle...you wouldn't go around wearing tight T-shirts if you were heavy around the middle").
For some reason I'm only now beginning to like Helvetica—I always felt it looked so fatigued every time I saw it, but now I'm beginning to realize it's not so bad. I've started specifying it in my fontstacks with -1 letter-spacing—looks lovely.

I think it's because when I first got interested in design everyone was enraptured and waxing lyrical on Helvetica, and I had some difficulties trying to see why at first. ^^
I still love Helvetica... it's definitely not overrated imo, but as someone said before, it is a lil' over used... I always say to people starting design to stick with Helvetica as it lends itself to so many different styles of project, whilst still looking good... I've kinda been through my Helvetica phase now though and don't roll with it as much anymore... I took to Frutiger and then Futura, which I'm still using quite a lot now... just a shame the latter doesn't have a very nice '?' though.
Well im going in the over-rated camp here. Yes it is a very nice font, but when everyone i do work for asks for it, and every other poster, business card and sign has it on i become a little sick of it. I tend to go for, Univers, Futura or my personal fav Din which actually does have old style numerals. Well the alternate cut does.