Re: Fonts used in print

Subject: Re: Fonts used in print
From: "Michael West" <mbwest -at- bigpond -dot- net -dot- au>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Sun, 15 Dec 2002 08:21:20 +1100

----- Original Message -----
From: "JB Foster" <jb -dot- foster -at- shaw -dot- ca>
> I haven't seen much (well, once I did in an internal manual) of Arial in
> text, other than headings (which is often a default setting). I have
> heard that Arial is Microsoft's answer to Helvetica. But since Aril is so
> ugly, why does Helvetica always pop up in discussions whenever fonts are
> discussed.

I don't think Arial is ugly. It was designed expressly
as a screen-font substitute for Helvetica. Helvetica
is an extremely successful sans serif typeface, widely
used in display settings -- signs, packaging, headlines.
It is not designed for setting body text -- although it is
often used for that purpose, especially in some European
countries where sans serif fonts are used more often for
body text than in the US and UK.

Its successors as Microsoft screen fonts, by the way, are
Verdana and Trebuchet. Both of those are generally
preferred for on-screen text over Arial.

Americans and Brits are likely to prefer serif faces for
body text. Sometimes sans serif faces are thought to
be more suited for technical material. I think this is
derived from their traditional use for statistical and
mathematical data--sans serif faces generally presenting
a cleaner representation of numbers than serif faces
(where the serifs are merely visual noise rather than
tracking aids).

Most native English-speakers will find unweighted sans
serifs (Helvetica-style) more tiring to read in large blocks
than serif faces (Times-style). This assumes that the
type has been properly set with respect to size, placement,
leading, column width, and so on.

If you were to try the same comparison in France, Belgium,
or Switzerland, you would have different results. There,
the primary schoolbooks have traditionally been set in
sans serif type.

Mike W

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RE: Fonts used in print: From: JB Foster

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