Saturday, October 1, 2016

I See Helvetica Wherever I Go

This month, I watched the documentary Helvetica. One of the major points made in the film was that once the typeface Helvetica was created, it began monopolizing typefaces across the world (including in the United States). I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I have not noticed how often Helvetica is used until watching this documentary! Since watching the film, I have seen Helvetica all over the place.

Here are some photos of Helvetica from my daily life!

I used Helvetica to create a bulletin board about True Colors for my residence hall.

These are a few of my name tags from UNI.

Helvetica typeface is used on the emergency exit notice in my room.

Notice the typeface used on Bridesmaids and Project X?

My best friend, Katie, gave me this last year! 

The North Face's logo is in Helvetica; this is a photo of my jacket.

My scrapbook paper has a label in Helvetica font.

This caution sign on a door warns us in Helvetica.

My teacher showed a TED talk in class, and I noticed the TED logo is in Helvetica!

Our eLearning (learning management system) utilizes Helvetica.

In case these photos are difficult to view on your screen, below are the uppercase and lowercase alphabets in Helvetica.

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Do you see how the letters are different from those in Times (as shown below)?

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

Times is a serif font, whereas Helvetica is a sans-serif font. A serif is a small line that shows the end of a character in a typeface. These serifs make the font easier to read in print because they help the reader track the words across a page. A "serif font" (like Times) has serifs, whereas a "sans-serif" font (like Helvetica) does not. You can learn about using serif versus sans serif font in print at fonts.com. I'd also recommend checking out this infographic by UrbanFonts.

See the serifs on these letters; image used with permission from en:Image:Serif and sans-serif 03.png on Wikimedia Commons

As I was looking around and attempting to spot Helvetica in my life, I frequently mistook Arial for Helvetica. Both are sans-serif fonts that look similar but definitely have their differences. Below is the alphabet in Arial; compare it to the alphabet in Helvetica from above!

ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ
abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz

I took this quiz online to see if I was able to recognize Helvetica from Arial, and I got 17/20! Take the quiz and post your score in the comments! (HINT: I think it is easy to see the difference between Arial and Helvetica in lowercase t's. The top of the "t" in Helvetica is horizontal, whereas the top in Arial is slanted.)

Can you spot Helvetica in your own life? Where else have you seen Helvetica?

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