Notes on Arial

If anyone ever recommends to you Arial for a primary typeface, these links will turn out handy.

LifeClever: There are two types of people in the world: those who can tell the difference between Helvetica and Arial, and those who can’t.

The Scourge of Arial:
Despite its pervasiveness, a professional designer would rarely—at least for the moment—specify Arial. To professional designers, Arial is looked down on as a not-very-faithful imitation of a typeface that is no longer fashionable. It has what you might call a “low-end stigma.” The few cases that I have heard of where a designer has intentionally used Arial were because the client insisted on it. Why? The client wanted to be able to produce materials in-house that matched their corporate look and they already had Arial, because it’s included with Windows. True to its heritage, Arial gets chosen because it’s cheap, not because it’s a great typeface.

Amazon book review: The title page, the headings, the captions and the examples are all typeset using one of the the dullest, ugliest sanserif typefaces ever designed. Arial lacks character and individuality, as it was conceived by its makers (the Monotype company) as a substitute for Helvetica (made by Monotype’s competitor, Linotype). Arial was drawn to match Helvetica’s character width but to have slightly altered letter appearance. The result is a set of letterforms that, indeed, look like imitation of something else. Since nowadays, Arial is included on practically all personal computers, one cannot imagine a choice for a typeface that would be less original. But it’s not necessarily the lack of originality that disqualitfies Arial as a typeface suitable for this sort of book. Arial simply has poorly drawn letterforms, and the Black variant (used on the title page, section titles and in the running headers of each page) is simply ugly. Practically any other grotesque (sanserif) typeface would have been a better choice for this book.

We know you have a choice in typefaces, and we thank you for flying with Notio Typography.