Arial vs. Helvetica

Not very many people in our blue and green marble can distinguish Arial from Helvetica. It's really a prized talent.

Many designers diss Arial, often without knowing why. In my opinion, there’s nothing inherently that terrible about the design.

I’ve pulled a few glyphs from each family to give you a hand.

Arial Vs Helvetica

If it’s Helvetica, its a has a tail. Arial’s does not. Arial has angled terminals. Helvetica does not. For Arial, leg of the capital R straight. Helvetica’s leg is all curvy.

Now you know!

Bonus Info

Helvetica was designed by the Haas type foundry in Switzerland. It was originally called Neue Haas Grotesque. Then it was renamed with a variation of the Latin name for Switzerland, Helvetia. They chose to use Helvetica to not be too litteral.

The story of the development of the Arial type family is incredibly convoluted and tangled. One fun fact is that Microsoft objected to paying the licensing fees to include Helvetica with the sale of Windows, so they financed the continuing development of Arial as an alternative. They reportedly poured enough money into this to fund a small country. The design of Arial is not so much based on Helvetica, they’re just both from the same classification category of Neo Grotesque typefaces.