Helvetica is good but overused

Helvetica anatomy

Helvetica is one of the world’s most popular typefaces; you’ve probably already seen it multiple times today. It’s a Neo-Grotesque typeface, based largely on Akzidenz-Grotesk, my favorite typeface.

Characterized by horizontal and vertical ends on all of its strokes and very tight letter spacing, Helvetica is iconic in how neutral it looks. It became a staple of the International Typographic Style (Swiss Style) that spread through much of the world in the 50s and 60s.

People use it for all kinds of things, but honestly—it’s a bit outplayed at this point. I would argue that for every job in which Helvetica would be good, there is always a typeface that would be better. Just keep searching for the right one. (Whenever you’re about to use Helvetica, ask yourself if Univers might be better. They’re pretty similar, but at least Univers doesn’t have so strong association with corporate life.)

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  1. Pingback: Univers (Helvetica's rival) - type365 Lucas Czarnecki

  2. Pingback: Modernity came from Akzidenz-Grotesk - type365 Lucas Czarnecki

  3. What can I say? I love fonts. I design signs & photo mats and am always hunting for the perfect font to use. Nothing can ruin a good design faster than a font that doesn’t compliment it.

  4. Sure, Helvetica can be a good backup font but it can’t work in every context and I think is definitely overrated.

  5. Haas is also a gorgeous font. Helvetica became Hellvetica after everyone in class started abusing it.

    1. Author

      Haas is actually the original name for Helvetica. It was Neue Haas Grotesk, which they’ve republished. In most ways, they’re the same, but (from what I understand) Haas has improved spacing and point-size adjustments.
      Thanks for the comment!

  6. I’m not really good at valuing fonts, but i found that Helvetica is one of the basic font which you can use for every purpose. Yet, i have used it before and I feel that this font is kinda gorgeous.

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