|Designer(s)||Max Miedinger, Eduard Hoffmann|
|Foundry||Haas Type Foundry|
|Re-issuing foundries||Mergenthaler Linotype Company|
|Design based on||Akzidenz-Grotesk|
Swiss 721 BT
It is a neo-grotesque or realist design, one influenced by the famous 19th century typeface Akzidenz-Grotesk and other German and Swiss designs. Its use became a hallmark of the International Typographic Style that emerged from the work of Swiss designers in the 1950s and 60s, becoming one of the most popular typefaces of the 20th century. Over the years, a wide range of variants have been released in different weights, widths and sizes, as well as matching designs for a range of non-Latin alphabets. Notable features of Helvetica as originally designed include the termination of all strokes on exactly horizontal or vertical lines and unusually tight letter spacing, which give it a dense, compact appearance.
Developed by the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) of Münchenstein, Switzerland, its release was planned to match a trend: a resurgence of interest in turn-of-the-century grotesque typefaces among European graphic designers that also saw the release of Univers by Adrian Frutiger the same year. Hoffmann was the president of the Haas Type Foundry, while Miedinger was a freelance graphic designer who had formerly worked as a Haas salesman and designer.
Miedinger and Hoffmann set out to create a neutral typeface that had great clarity, no intrinsic meaning in its form, and could be used on a wide variety of signage. Originally named Neue Haas Grotesk, it was rapidly licensed by Linotype and renamed after the Latin adjective for Switzerland. A feature-length film directed by Gary Hustwit was released in 2007 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the typeface's introduction in 1957.
- 1 History
- 2 Variants
- 2.1 Helvetica Light
- 2.2 Helvetica Inserat (1957)
- 2.3 Helvetica Compressed (1966)
- 2.4 Helvetica Rounded (1978)
- 2.5 Helvetica Narrow
- 2.6 Alternative styles
- 2.7 Language variants
- 2.8 Digitisations
- 3 Similar typefaces
- 4 Usage
- 5 Media coverage
- 6 References
- 7 Further reading
- 8 External links
Influences of Helvetica included Schelter-Grotesk and Haas' Normal Grotesk. Attracting considerable attention on its release as Neue Haas Grotesk, Linotype adopted Neue Haas Grotesk for widespread release.
In 1960, its name was changed by Haas' German parent company Stempel to Helvetica (meaning Swiss in Latin) in order to make it more marketable internationally. It comes from the Latin name for the pre-Roman tribes of what became Switzerland. Intending to match the success of Univers, Arthur Ritzel of Stempel redesigned Neue Haas Grotesk into a larger family.
- tall x-height, which makes it easier to read in smaller sizes and at distance
- An oblique rather than italic style, a common feature of almost all grotesque and neo-grotesque typefaces.
- narrow t and f.
- square-looking s.
- bracketed top serif of 1.
- rounded off square tail of R.
- concave curved stem of 7
- two-storied a (with curves of bowl and of stem), a standard neo-grotesque feature
Like many neo-grotesque designs, Helvetica has narrow apertures, which limit its legibility onscreen and at small print sizes. It also has no visible difference between I (upper-case i) and l (lower-case L). In situations where this matters, other designs intended for legibility at small sizes above all, such as Verdana, Meta or Trebuchet or a monospace font such as Courier may be more appropriate.
Helvetica Light was designed by Stempel's artistic director Erich Schultz-Anker, in conjunction with Arthur Ritzel.
Helvetica Inserat (1957)
Helvetica Inserat (German for advertisement) is a version designed in 1957 primarily for use in the advertising industry: this is a narrow variant that is tighter than Helvetica Black Condensed. It gives the glyphs an even larger x-height and a more squared appearance, similar to Schmalfette Grotesk. Strike with strokes in $, ¢ are replaced by non-strikethrough version. 4 is opened at top.
Helvetica Compressed (1966)
Designed by Matthew Carter for cold type. It shares some design elements with Helvetica Inserat, but uses a curved tail in Q, downward pointing branch in r, and tilde bottom £. Carter has said that in practice it was designed to be similar to Schmalfette Grotesk and to compete in this role with British designs Impact and Compacta, as this style was popular at the time.
The family consists of Helvetica Compressed, Helvetica Extra Compressed, Helvetica Ultra Compressed fonts. It has been digitised, for instance in the Adobe Helvetica release. It is used on the League of Gentlemen logo.
Helvetica Rounded (1978)
Helvetica Rounded is a version containing rounded stroke terminators. Only bold, black, bold condensed, and bold outline fonts were made, with outline font not issued in digital form by Linotype.
Helvetica Narrow is a version where its width is between Helvetica Compressed and Helvetica Condensed. However, the width is scaled in a way that is optically consistent with the widest width fonts.
The font was developed when printer ROM space was very scarce, so it was created by mathematically squashing Helvetica to 82% of the original width, resulting in distorted letterforms and thin vertical strokes next to thicker horizontals.
Because of the distortion problems, Adobe dropped Helvetica Narrow in its release of Helvetica in OpenType format, recommending users choose Helvetica Condensed instead. However, in Linotype's OpenType version of Helvetica Narrow, the distortions found in the Adobe fonts are non-existent.
Helvetica Textbook is an alternate design of the typeface. Some characters such as 1, 4, 6, 9, I, J, a, f, j, q, t, u, μ, and ¶ are drawn differently from the original version.
Helvetica Flair (1970)
Designed by Phil Martin, Helvetica Flair is a redesign of Helvetica adding swashes and unicase-inspired capitals with a lower-case design. Considered a hallmark of 1970s design, it has never been issued digitally. It is considered to be a highly conflicted design, as Helvetica is seen as a spare and rational typeface and swashes are ostentatious: font designer Mark Simonson described it as "almost sacrilegious". Martin would later claim to have been accused of "typographic incest" by one German writer for creating it.
Shatter LET (1973)
Designed by Vic Carless for Letraset, Shatter assembles together slices of Helvetica to make a typeface that seems in motion, or broken and in pieces. Writing in 2014, designer Tim Spencer said that it offered "glitch-like mechanical aggression [inspired by] cold, machine-induced paranoia. It attacked the Establishment’s preferred information typography style with a sharp edge and recomposed it in a jarring manner that still makes your eyes skitter and your brain tick trying to recompose it. Shatter literally sliced up Swiss modernist authority."
The Cyrillic version was designed in-house in the 1970s at D Stempel AG, then critiqued and redesigned in 1992 under the advice of Jovica Veljovic.
(Neue) Helvetica Thai (2012)
Thai font designer Anuthin Wongsunkakon of Cadson Demak Co. created Thai versions of Helvetica and Neue Helvetica fonts. The design uses loopless terminals in Thai glyphs, which had also been used by Wongsunkakon's previous design, Manop Mai (New Manop).
Initial release included 6 fonts in OpenType Com format for each family in 3 weights (light, regular, bold) and 1 width, with complementary italics. OpenType features include fractions, glyph composition/decomposition.
Linotype and Monotype
Neue Helvetica (1983)
Helvetica Neue is a reworking of the typeface with a more structurally unified set of heights and widths. Other changes include improved legibility, heavier punctuation marks, and increased spacing in the numbers.
Neue Helvetica uses a numerical design classification scheme, like Univers. The font family is made up of 51 fonts including 9 weights in 3 widths (8, 9, 8 in normal, condensed, extended widths respectively), and an outline font based on Helvetica 75 Bold Outline (no Textbook or rounded fonts are available). Linotype distributes Neue Helvetica on CD. Helvetica Neue also comes in variants for Central European and Cyrillic text.
It was developed at D. Stempel AG, a Linotype subsidiary. The studio manager was Wolfgang Schimpf, and his assistant was Reinhard Haus; the manager of the project was René Kerfante. Erik Spiekermann was the design consultant and designed the literature for the launch in 1983.
Designer Christian Schwartz, who would later release his own digitisation of the original Helvetica designs (see below), expressed disappointment with this and other digital releases of Helvetica: "Much of the warm personality of Miedinger's shapes was lost along the way...digital Helvetica has always been one-size-fits-all, which leads to unfortunate compromises...the spacing has ended up much looser than Miedinger's wonderfully tight original at display sizes but much too tight for comfortable reading at text sizes."
iOS used first Helvetica then Helvetica Neue as its system font. All releases of Mac OS X prior to OS X Yosemite used Lucida Grande as the system font. The version of Helvetica Neue used as the system font in OS X 10.10 is specially optimised; Apple's intention is to provide a consistent experience for people who use both iOS and OS X. Apple replaced Helvetica Neue with San Francisco in iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.
Neue Helvetica W1G (2009)
It is a version with Latin Extended, Greek, Cyrillic scripts support. Only OpenType CFF font format was released.
The family includes the fonts from the older Neue Helvetica counterparts, except Neue Helvetica 75 Bold Outline. Additional OpenType features include subscript/superscript.
Also called Helvetica Linotype, Helvetica World supports Arabic, Cyrillic, Greek, Hebrew, and Vietnamese scripts.
The family consists of four fonts in 2 weights and 1 width, with complementary italics.
The Arabic glyphs were based on a redesigned Yakout font family from Linotype. Latin kerning and spacing were redesigned to have consistent spacing. John Hudson of Tiro Typeworks designed the Hebrew glyphs for the font family, as well as the Cyrillic, and Greek letters.
Neue Helvetica eText (2011)
It is a version of Neue Helvetica optimised for on-screen use, designed by Akira Kobayashi of Monotype Imaging.
The family includes 8 fonts in 4 weights and 1 width, with complimentary italics (45, 46, 55, 56, 65, 66, 75, 76). OpenType features include numerators/denominators, fractions, ligatures, scientific inferiors, subscript/superscript.
Neue Haas Grotesk (2010)
Unlike earlier digitisations, Schwartz created two different optical sizes for body text and display sizes, which have different spacing metrics giving tighter spacing at display size and looser spacing to increase legibility in body text. The release includes a number of features not present on digitisations branded as Helvetica, including corrected-curve obliques, tabular figures and stylistic alternates such as separate punctuation sets for upper- and lower-case text. Writing for Typographica, typeface designer Matthew Butterick described the release as better than any previous digital release of Helvetica: "As someone who’s worked with cold-metal Helvetica, I can vouch for the fact that it’s never looked better...My sole criticism of the face [is] its ungainly name, which I’m regrettably certain will limit its visibility and hence its uptake. "Neue Haas Grotesk" makes it sound like a second cousin of Akzidenz Grotesk that’s just stumbled in from the hinterlands. But no, it is the rightful heir to the Helvetica throne. It should carry the Helvetica name." Users include Bloomberg Businessweek and the Whitney Museum. It originated from an abandoned redesign plan for the Guardian newspaper. The release does not include condensed weights or Greek and Cyrillic support.
Variations on Helvetica have been made by various vendors, including Monotype Imaging (CG Triumvirate), ParaType (Pragmatica), Bitstream (Swiss 721), URW++ (Nimbus Sans), Scangraphic (Europa Grotesk) and Ray Larabie (Coolvetica, Movatif and GGX88). Some of these designs add differences and new influences (Larabie's variations, in particular, add unusual quirks), while others may be almost indistinguishable.
Monotype's Arial, designed in 1982, while different from Helvetica in some few details, has identical character widths, and is indistinguishable by most non-specialists. The characters C, G, R, Q, 1, a, e, r, and t are useful for quickly distinguishing Arial and Helvetica. Differences include:
- Helvetica's strokes are typically cut either horizontally or vertically. This is especially visible in the t, r, f, and C. Arial employs slanted stroke cuts.
- Helvetica's G has a well-defined spur; Arial does not.
- The tail of Helvetica's R is more upright whereas Arial's R is more diagonal.
- The number 1 of Helvetica has a square angle underneath the upper spur, Arial has a curve.
- The Q glyph in Helvetica has a straight cross mark, while the cross mark in Arial has a slight snake-like curve.
Microsoft's "Helv" design, later known as "MS Sans Serif", is a sans-serif typeface that shares many key characteristics to Helvetica, including the horizontally and vertically aligned stroke terminators and more-uniform stroke widths within a glyph.
The font "Ad Lib" resembles Helvetica Bold, but with a comic, exaggerated design.
URW++ produced a modification of Helvetica called Nimbus Sans in 1999. Nimbus Sans L, URW's PostScript variant, was released under the GNU General Public License in 1996, and available in major free and open source operating systems.
Two open-source typefaces with features intermediate between Arial and Helvetica are "Arimo" and "Roboto", both of which are available as web fonts. Arimo is a Croscore font family design metrically compatible with Arial. Roboto was developed by Google for version 4 of its Android operating system; this has a more condensed design with the influence of straight-sided geometric designs like DIN 1451.
Helvetica on the logo of Cassina S.p.A., showing its traditionally tight letterspacing
Helvetica used on signs in Vienna, 1973
Helvetica is used on signage on the Chicago 'L'
Helvetica used in the logo of the National Film Board of Canada
Helvetica is among the most widely used sans-serif typefaces. Versions exist for Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Greek, Japanese, Korean, Hindi, Urdu, Khmer, and Vietnamese alphabets. Chinese faces have been developed to complement Helvetica.
Helvetica is a popular choice for commercial wordmarks, including those for 3M (including Scotch Tape), American Apparel, BASF, Blaupunkt, BMW, Diaspora (social network), ECM, General Motors, J. C. Penney, Jeep, Kawasaki, Knoll, Lufthansa, Motorola, Nestlé, Panasonic, Parmalat, Philippine Airlines, Sears, Skype, Target, Tupperware, and Verizon. Apple has used Helvetica as the system typeface of iOS until 2015, and is used for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Notably, from 1967 to 2013, the logo for American Airlines featured two upper case As (AA) and a wordmark using the font.
Helvetica is widely used by the U.S. government; for example, federal income tax forms are set in Helvetica, and NASA used the type on the Space Shuttle orbiter. Helvetica is also used in the United States television rating system. The Canadian government also uses Helvetica as its identifying typeface, with three variants being used in its corporate identity program, and encourages its use in all federal agencies and websites.
Helvetica is commonly used in transportation settings. For example, New York City's Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) adopted Helvetica for use in signage in 1989. From 1970 to 1989, the standard font was Standard Medium, an Akzidenz-Grotesk-like sans-serif, as defined by Unimark's New York City Transit Authority Graphic Standards Manual. The MTA system is still rife with a proliferation of Helvetica-like fonts, including Arial, in addition to some old signs in Medium Standard, and a few anomalous signs in Helvetica Narrow.
Helvetica is also used in the Washington Metro, the Chicago 'L', Philadelphia's SEPTA, and the Madrid Metro. Amtrak used the typeface on the "pointless arrow" logo, and it was adopted by Danish railway company DSB for a time period. In addition, the former state-owned operator of the British railway system developed its own Helvetica-based Rail Alphabet font, which was also adopted by the National Health Service and the British Airports Authority.
In 2007, director Gary Hustwit released a documentary film, Helvetica (Plexifilm, DVD), to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the typeface. In the film, graphic designer Wim Crouwel said, "Helvetica was a real step from the 19th century typeface... We were impressed by that because it was more neutral, and neutralism was a word that we loved. It should be neutral. It shouldn't have a meaning in itself. The meaning is in the content of the text and not in the typeface." The documentary also presented other designers who associated Helvetica with authority and corporate dominance, and whose rebellion from Helvetica's ubiquity created new styles.
From April 2007 to March 2008, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City displayed an exhibit called "50 Years of Helvetica", which celebrated the many uses of the typeface. In 2011 the Disseny Hub Barcelona displayed an exhibit called Helvetica. A New Typeface?. The exhibition included a timeline of Helvetica’s consolidation over the last fifty years with a view to understanding its role in the history of design, as well as its antecedents and its subsequent influence. The itinerary started out with a selection of local works, highlighting the top-quality design of current and past creations whose common denominator is their use of Helvetica.
In 2011, one of Google's April Fools' Day jokes centered around the use of Helvetica. If a user attempted to search for the term "Helvetica" using the search engine the results would be displayed in the font Comic Sans.
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It’s a subtle change, but Apple has changed the system font for the iPhone 4, from Helvetica to Helvetica Neue. The change is specific to the iPhone 4 hardware (or more specifically, the Retina Display), not iOS 4.
- "OS X Human Interface Guidelines: Designing for Yosemite". Apple Developer. Apple, Inc. 2014-10-16. Retrieved 18 October 2014.
The use of Helvetica Neue also gives users a consistent experience when they switch between iOS and OS X.
- Stinson, Liz (2015-06-09). "Why Apple Abandoned the World’s Most Beloved Typeface". Wired. Condé Nast. Retrieved 2015-07-24.
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In the Comments Section: The biggest differences are the new Greek, Cyrillic and Hebrew designs, and the presence of Arabic support based on the radically redesigned Yakout Linotype (not a perfect match for the Helvetica, but the most appropriate in the Linotype Library; this is 'core font' Arabic support: not for fine typography). There is also a large maths and symbol set in each font (not complete maths typesetting support, but more than you'll get in most fonts). The only big change in the Latin is that the whole thing has been respaced. The old Helvetica Std Type 1 and TT fonts inherited, via phototype, the unit metrics of the original hot metal type. This led to all sorts of oddities in the sidebearings, which were cleaned up during development of Helvetica Linotype. It is still quite a tightly spaced typeface by today's standards, but the spacing is now consistent. It was also re-kerned. Helvetica Linotype has also been extensively hinted for screen. -- John Hudson
- "Experimental Arabic Type". Typographica.org. Retrieved 2009-06-08.[dead link]
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A consistent typography is fundamental to corporate identity, and three faces from the Helvetica type family have been adopted for purposes of the FIP. They were chosen for their versatility, excellent legibility and contemporary design. The three typefaces (Fig. 3) are designated Helvetica light, regular and medium throughout this manual. When specifying a typeface, it should be noted that these are not standard designations. For instance, the three faces are also referred to as Helvetica 45, 55 and 65 respectively. Since the designations used by industry vary, the type specimens shown here should be examined for comparison with specimens shown in the catalogues of suppliers. The use of the standard typefaces is mandatory for all signatures. Helvetica is also specified for words accompanying the signature in applications that are subject to design standards, e.g. stationery, signage and vehicle markings....line feed character in
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- "A Brief History of Fonts in Transit" (PDF). http://www.livewellcollaborative.org/. Retrieved 2015-06-22. External link in
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- Helvetica. A New Typeface? at Disseny Hub Barcelona
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- Wallis, Lawrence W (2000). Modern Encyclopedia of Typefaces 1960-90. London: Lund Humphries Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-85331-567-1.
- Müller, Lars; Langer, Axel; Kupferschmid, Indra (2007). Malsy, Victo, ed. Helvetica forever: Story of a typeface. Baden, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers. ISBN 978-3-03778-121-0.
||This article's use of external links may not follow Wikipedia's policies or guidelines. (March 2012)|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Helvetica.|
- Typophile Typowiki: Helvetica
- To Helvetica and Back — 77 Years
- HELVETICA site for Independent Lens on PBS
- linotype.com: Helvetica Typeface Family overview & related Information
- Helvetica documentary site
- All About Helvetica Font
- Arial vs Helvetica
- MoMA Exhibition (2007), 50 Years of Helvetica
- Helvetica at 50 — BBC News article
- The Helvetica Hegemony: How an unassuming font took over the world — article in Slate, published May 25, 2007
- Helvetica: The little typeface that leaves a big mark — Herald Tribune article on the 50 years of Helvetica
- Alternatives to Helvetica: two overlapping articles by Stephen Coles at fontfeed.com and fontshop.com.
- Alternatives to Helvetica: article at typefacts.com
- Helvetica: Old and Neue
- Helvetica forever (book, exhibition, products)
- The Helvetica Story and Complete Collection