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Posts Tagged ‘helvetica’

by Allan Haley

The Helvetica® typeface didn’t start out with that name – or with the design it now has. The Helvetica story started in the fall of 1956 in the small Swiss town of Münchenstein. This is when Eduard Hoffmann, managing director of the Haas Type Foundry, commissioned Max Miedinger to draw a typeface that would unseat a popular design offered by one his company’s competitors.

Miedinger, who was an artist and graphic designer before training as a typesetter, came up with a design based on Hoffmann’s instructions, and by the summer or 1957, produced a new sans serif typeface which was given the name “Neue Haas Grotesk.” Simply translated this meant “New Haas Sans Serif.”

The Stempel type foundry, Haas’s parent company in Frankfurt, decided to offer the design to their customers in Germany. Stempel, however, felt that they would be unable to market a new face under another foundry’s name and looked for one that would embody the spirit and heritage of the face. The two companies settled on “Helvetica” which was a close approximation of “Helvetia,” the Latin name for Switzerland. (The “Helvetia” was not used because Swiss sewing machine and insurance companies had already taken the name.)

The original design of Neue Haas Grotesk for handset metal composition has also been modified several times since it was renamed Helvetica. Originally, Neue Haas Grotesk was produced for typesetting by hand in a range of point sizes from five to 72-point, but Helvetica soon also became a Linotype® machine-set typeface which led to changes to the design to simplify production. This, however, was at the expense of aesthetic nuances. For example, the regular and bold weights were redesigned for duplexing on two-letter matrices for linecasters. The result was a regular that spaced a little too open and a bold that was more condensed than the original. Machine-set Helvetica has also always been a “one-size-fits-all” design, whereby the same fonts were used to set type from very small text copy to headlines on billboards.

The subsequent phototype and digital fonts of Helvetica continued to incorporate several design revisions. The new digital version of the Neue Haas Grotesk™ typeface, however, takes Helvetica back to its origins.

Click here to learn more about the new, old Helvetica.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.

by Chris Roberts

PDF Catalog of Hand-Hinted Web Fonts

If you’ve been following the developments regarding “Web fonts”, you’ve probably heard someone complain about the way some Web fonts look in the Windows® operating system. You may have even heard that the problem is more specifically to do with Windows XP. If you really dug deep, you may have read that the most egregious cases are centered on a scenario where a Windows XP user is surfing with a browser that does not have default ClearType® support. And if you are a total Web fonts junky with way too much time on your hands, you may have looked up operating system and browser market share figures and arrived at the conclusion that over 30% of your visitors may fall into this category. Then, you may have been overcome with feelings of nausea, dread and hopelessness.

All is not lost. First of all, time is on your side. XP won’t be around forever. Every day Windows 7 is gaining ground on XP. Someday this will all be nothing more than a poorly rendered memory. Better still, you don’t have to wait for “someday”. There is something you can do today to cure those XP induced Web font blues. Fonts.com Web Fonts now offers over 600 “hand-hinted” Web fonts to help address this specific situation. Among them you will find several classics like Avenir®, Bookman Old Style™, Century Gothic™, Eurostile® Next, Frutiger®, Helvetica®, Trade Gothic® and Univers®.

What does hand-hinted mean? Basically, it means that a real person sat in front of a computer monitor and studied each character at different point sizes, making painstaking adjustments until they were satisfied with the result. But we are not talking about just any person. Hand-hinters are to fonts what sommeliers are to wine. It takes many years to learn to do it well. Every font is different in design and characteristic. It takes a rare and highly skilled expert to get it right.

Monotype Imaging has been in the hinting business since the beginning. Over the years we have accumulated a great deal of font hinting knowledge and talent. We’ve also produced a very large number of expertly hand-hinted fonts. Today, it’s our pleasure to share them with you.

Here’s a link to our hand hinted Web fonts now available on Fonts.com Web Fonts:
Click here

Here’s a link to a PDF catalog of our hand-hinted Web fonts:
Click here


by admin

Nadine Chahine discusses her proudest achievements, favorite typefaces, sources of inspiration, web fonts and the future of typography.


by Allan Haley

Two graphic designers, Matthew Robinson and Tom Wrigglesworth, decided that they wanted to find out which typeface was the most “earth friendly.” Their collaboration, called “Measuring Type,” took several popular typefaces and determined how much printer ink each consumed.

I’m suspect.

The study involved the Brush Script™, Comic Sans®, Cooper Black, Courier, Garamond, Helvetica®, Impact and Times New Roman® typefaces. The comparison was supposedly done by drawing out large-scale renditions of the typefaces using ballpoint pens, “allowing the remaining ink levels to display the ink efficiency of each typeface.”

Cute concept, but not exactly scientific. First, drawing a rendition of a typeface is not an accurate way to determine how much ink the actual typeface consumes. Second, if you’ve used a ballpoint pen, you know that you can do an awful lot of writing (certainly more than a half-dozen big letters) before any appreciable loss of ink is noticeable.

Then, there are the results. According to the study, Garamond used the least amount of ink, followed by Courier, Brush Script, Times New Roman and then Helvetica. Comic Sans, Cooper Black and Impact were deemed the ink-gluttons of the pack.

While I’m sure that Robinson and Wrigglesworth had the best of intentions with their study, it also ignores one of the main tenets of typographic communication: legibility. As I wrote in an earlier post, legibility is measure of how easy it is to distinguish one letter from another – a pretty important aspect when it comes to reading.

Garamond is generally considered to be a very legible typeface. Courier, because of its mono-width letters, however, is not. It is also less legible than the fourth place Times New Roman and the fifth place Helvetica. Because it is a script, the same holds true for the third place Brush Script.

If you want to save ink, the results of the Measuring Type study may be helpful. If, however, your goal is to make it easy for your readers to assimilate your content the study is a few points short of an em-quad.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.



by Chris Roberts

Just stumbled across a link to this old ad for Helvetica:

Helvetica Trade Advertising 02

Anyone else have any cool retro type ads to share?


by Allan Haley

Fonts and typefaces are very different things, even though people tend to use the terms interchangeably. Typefaces are designs like Bembo, Helvetica or Papyrus. Type designers create typefaces, using software programs to shape the individual letters. A few type designers still draw the letters by hand and then scan the drawings into a type design application.

Whether a collection of metal letters or a set of electronic files, fonts are the things that enable the printing of typefaces. Type foundries produce fonts. Sometimes designers and foundries are one and the same, but creating a typeface and producing a font are two separate functions.

From Design to Font

bodonipunches100The eighteenth century Italian designer Giambattista Bodoni created the typeface that now carries his name. Creating the design was a multistage process. First Bodoni cut a letter (backward) on the end of a steel rod. The completed letter was called a “punch.” Next he took the punch and hammered it into a flat piece of soft brass to make a mold of the letter. A combination of molten lead, zinc and antimony was poured into the mold, and the result was a piece of type whose face was an exact copy of the punch. After Bodoni made punches for all the letters he would use, he cast as many pieces of type as he thought he would need. The resulting suite of letters was a font of type.

Many Fonts-One Typeface

Over the years, there have been hand-set fonts, machine-set fonts, phototype fonts and now digital fonts of the Bodoni typeface. Currently there are TrueType, PostScript Type1 and OpenType fonts of Bodoni. There are Pro fonts of Bodoni, used to set most of the languages in Europe, and Greek and Cyrillic fonts of Bodoni, which enable the setting of these languages. All are fonts of the Bodoni typeface design.

Allan Haley
Allan Haley is Director of Words & Letters at Monotype Imaging. Here he is responsible for strategic planning and creative implementation of just about everything related to typeface designs.