Helvetica

2007-04-21

in Daily updates, Geek stuff

Flowers and bricks

With my first printed and bound work sitting on the desk beside me, I might be forgiven for having delved a bit into typography and printing. Most people will be familiar with Helvetica, one of the most commonly used sans serif fonts in history. Fewer will know as much about it as is provided by this article. Quoted therein is Eric Gill, the British sculptor who designed the font I ultimately chose for my thesis. More on Helvetica can be found on Metafilter.

Typefaces have an interesting effect on the presentation of data. Usually, the differences between them are subtle enough to evade perception. Nevertheless, the shape they give to individual words or whole pages of text immediately conveys a great deal of information about the source: in terms of elegance, audience, and approach.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anon April 21, 2007 at 10:55 pm

Eric Gill’s Wikipedia page includes some lurid personal history:

“Gill’s devout Roman Catholicism did not prevent him sexually abusing his own children, having an incestuous relationship with his sister or performing sexual acts on his dog. His personal diaries describe his sexual activity in great detail. This aspect of Gill’s life was little known until publication of the 1989 biography by Fiona MacCarthy. Robert Speaight’s earlier biography mentioned none of it.”

Also related: how to tell Helvetica from arial

Anonymous April 22, 2007 at 1:33 am

Have a look at typophile.com.

Kerrie April 22, 2007 at 2:26 am

YOU’VE ABANDONED GARAMOND!?!?!?!

Milan April 22, 2007 at 2:33 am

Kerrie,

Garamond is nice, but it is overly common and has ugly italics.

My new favourite sans serif font is Gill Sans. It looks a lot more modern than Helvetica.

R.K. April 22, 2007 at 9:40 am

Happy Earth Day

Milan April 22, 2007 at 3:02 pm
Kerrie April 22, 2007 at 8:09 pm

Gill Sans is ok, very clean but less boring than Arial. It’s true Garamond has ugly italics, but what’s wrong with being common?

I can’t believe I care this much about fonts.

Milan April 22, 2007 at 8:17 pm

Kerrie,

Nothing is wrong with a font being common, in and of itself. Garamond is certainly a classic, and a much more elegant alternative to the ubiquitous Times New Roman. That said, there is a certain appreciation to be taken from a font that is unfamiliar enough to draw some appreciation: especially one as nicely cut as Perpetua.

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