Can you tell Helvetica from Arial?

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Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
Can you tell Helvetica from Arial?
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Ben Mitchell's picture
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Joined: 12 Aug 2007 - 4:05pm
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Yay! 20 out of 20! I was struggling with the Toyota one. Thanks! :)

Matt McInerney's picture
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008 - 2:07pm
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apparently I can, 20/20

only two that were a little difficult: Mattel and Toyota
everywhere else you just look for 90 degree angles

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jonathanhughes's picture
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Joined: 19 Dec 2007 - 9:28pm
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Yeah, that was very easy except for Mattel and Toyota, and I think Toyota may not be a fair test because the Os in the logo look a lot rounder than the Os in Helvetica.

jonathanhughes's picture
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Joined: 19 Dec 2007 - 9:28pm
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I found this link in the discussions on ironicsans.com

http://new.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/forum/case/103306/

It would seem that it is indeed not Helvetica (at least not the Os)

Jacky W chen's picture
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Joined: 2 Jan 2009 - 2:35am
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Ditto on Mattel. For a moment there I was totally ashamed of my self

Terry Biddle's picture
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Joined: 21 May 2005 - 1:42pm
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19/20. Mattel messed me up.

Mili Carr's picture
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Joined: 17 Jun 2005 - 1:36pm
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Shame on me, 18/20, thanks to Mattel and Toyota.

Matt McInerney's picture
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For Mattel and Toyota, you could just tell by the kerning being better on the original logos than the Arial fakes

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Koetsu's picture
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Joined: 26 Sep 2009 - 9:59pm
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That helps identifying the differences. Mattel and Toyota are so similar but I got Toyota right. Helvetica is thicker than Arial and it was notable in the O.

Jan Erdmann's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2007 - 8:36am
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19/20.
TOYOTA.

DavidMarsh's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2009 - 7:54pm
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18/20

Mattel and Toyota screwed me over.

Forrest Vess's picture
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20/20 sweet.

Jan Erdmann's picture
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A good challenge would be old Helvetica vs. Neue Helvetica.

Matt McInerney's picture
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How about Palatino vs. Book Antiqua. Can you spot the original?

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Ben Mitchell's picture
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I think the 've' may be the clue here.

Jason Pagura's picture
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Joined: 10 Sep 2006 - 6:19pm
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Yay! 20/20 for me.

John Hudson's picture
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What was interesting to me was to see just how many of the original logos involved modifications to the Helvetica shapes.

What was embarassing to me -- especially so, given that I worked on Helvetica -- was that I only got 18/20.

Viktor Solt-Bittner's picture
Joined: 15 Jul 2006 - 2:26am
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20/20
TOYOTA was not as obvious as the other ones. the Arial version just looked somehow slightly off.

afonseca1974's picture
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Joined: 3 Oct 2007 - 5:34am
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19/20.
Just like biddy, Mattel messed me up.

António Fonseca

Dave Williams's picture
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Joined: 6 Jul 2005 - 7:21am
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I got 19/20. Guessed Mattel correctly (well, it was fifty-fifty!). I was fine on the Toyota, by forgetting the question "Is it Arial or Helvetica?" and instead asking "Which of these looks like the Toyota logo I'm used to seeing?", at which point it was obvious. Flubbed one of the others by just clicking the mouse too fast without thinking. Duh.

So I guess the lesson is that it's easy if you've got the lowercase, or an R to look at!
_______________________________________________
Ever since I chose to block pop-ups, my toaster's stopped working.

Rudolf Vavruch's picture
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19/20
MATTEL.

After failing that I scrutinised the two logos to find a noticable difference until I noticed that the Arial M is thicker in the middle.

Reminded me of what I read on Briem (http://briem.net/ see "Notes on Type Design" > Basics > Illusion). I take it Arial's M wasn't adjusted, just two straight rectangles crossing each other.

-Rudolf

stormbind's picture
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Joined: 26 Sep 2009 - 10:55pm
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In response to the thread question, Yes I can! However, that does not require me to know what Helvetica and Arial are *blush*

0/0 the first time
20/20 the second time

At least I am consistent! :D

I categorised them by their elegance. If the glyphs were unconvincing, I leaned back and categorised the words by their elegance. In this scheme of things, the Mattel and Toyota examples were not difficult to separate.

Scored 0/0 because I was quite shocked to realise that Arial is the elegant one! The R in Helvetica looks like it was taken from another family?

Jan Erdmann's picture
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0/0 the first time

So you didn’t do the test at all the first time? ;-)

The R in Helvetica looks like it was taken from another family?

It’s the ‘R’ in Arial that’s been taken from other typefaces.

stormbind's picture
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Joined: 26 Sep 2009 - 10:55pm
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Maybe I was unclear :)

I could clearly see two different fonts, which I understood to be Font A and Font B. However, I did not know the conventional names of those two fonts.

Consequently, there was a 50/50 chance that I would score either 0% or 100% :)

Well, I can see that the R in Helvetica shares components with its family. However, the R in Helvetica has two curves with opposing movement. This gives the glyph a distinctive wavy feel and none of the other glyphs in the example share that wavy property. Consequently, the word looks bastardised - in my humble opinion :)

Dave Williams's picture
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Joined: 6 Jul 2005 - 7:21am
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So you meant 0/20, not 0/0... :-D

Oliver Chank's picture
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19/20... TOYOTA.

But sincerely, those Os are clearly not Helvetica’s.

As for MATTEL, the only difference I could spot was that the inner apexes of the M did not reach the As.

James Montalbano's picture
Joined: 18 Jun 2003 - 11:00am
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How about Palatino vs. Book Antiqua. Can you spot the original?

Personally I could care less, but the bottom example looks like crap. The g, o, e, and s look too light when you compare them to the h, a, n, d,

stormbind's picture
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dtw, oops! my former maths teachers must have red ears :)

Actually, I did not see all the examples the first time because the quiz told me that I incorrectly assigned the conventional names.

I also thought the O in Toyota looked unconvincing. In that question, I stood back and judged the words instead of the glyphs. In Mattel, I felt that the E in Helvetica was comparatively stale and less elegant.

Dave Williams's picture
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FWIW, attached shows the TOTOYA logo with the original (EPS off brandsoftheworld) in red (obviously), and Helvetica bold overlaid as a black outline with my best effort at matching the size of the T. (A bit fiddly when the only application to hand is Acrobat.)

Close, but not the same (rounder Os as mentioned before, but also the junction in the Y and the stems of the A are a bit fatter).

Matt McInerney's picture
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Personally I could care less, but the bottom example looks like crap. The g, o, e, and s look too light when you compare them to the h, a, n, d,

The bottom is actually the original (Palatino)

Scored 0/0 because I was quite shocked to realise that Arial is the elegant one! The R in Helvetica looks like it was taken from another family?

You really need to take another look at the Arial R then. It looks like it came out of a humanist sans like Gill Sans rather than a grosteque.

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stormbind's picture
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I think the tail on Arial is less conventional than you are suggesting. Specifically, its thinner where is separates from the bowl.

I quite like Arial's history as the interoperable usurper. It compliments the ethos of WWW, Linux, Wikipedia, and the positive spirit of our time. This is in contrast to the negative spirit of royalties, superficial clones and software piracy.

darrel's picture
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I think you're perhaps attaching a tad too much meaning to type but, that said...

"in contrast...superficial clones"

That's pretty much what Arial is.

Matt McInerney's picture
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It compliments the ethos of WWW, Linux, Wikipedia, and the positive spirit of our time.

If Arial were the result of an open source project that may be more appropriate to say, but the fact that it was commissioned by Microsoft to avoid paying royalties is not just morally questionable (to say the least), it's hypocritical. If anyone has championed the idea of intellectual property rights, it's Bill Gates and Microsoft.

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stormbind's picture
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If it was a clone, we would not be scoring 20/20.

But my defence might be flawed because I had thought Arial was non-commissioned and later bought by Microsoft?

John Hudson's picture
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The R in the TARGET logo, at least as shown in the quiz, is wonky. The Helvetica R is not rounded on the inside of the foot.

Michael Clark's picture
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Matt, where did you get the reference for Zapf's two?

Michael

ajanhelendam's picture
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The test really should be can you spot Arial from the "original" since at least one of the logos (National) is clearly not Helvetica as can be seen in the treatment of the lowercase 'a' which has a different tail for bold and black weights than normal weight. In the case of National the type of tail is switched. It's a Grotesque variant, but not an official Helvetica. The author should have stuck to a list of companies where the use of Helvetica in the logos had been vetted like in the Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helvetica.

As to the history of Arial, Wikipedia has a pretty good entry as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arial. The articles linked in the footnotes reference good sources from what I can tell.

I'm not sure where the myth Microsoft didn't want to pay royalties for Helvetica stems from but it's pretty ludicrous when you consider that the Microsoft logo is actually Helvetica minus the tweaked 'o' and the custom kerning (Why wasn't that one on the test). Furthermore, Microsoft doesn't own Arial, Monotype does and Microsoft licenses the font from them.

As some may have noticed that if Arial was almost an exact clone, people should be scoring much lower. If you used say Nimbus Sans or Swiss 721 I doubt many would be able to score so high. Granted, Arial is a Helvetica substitute because of the competition between IBM/Monotype vs Xerox/Linotype in the printer market in the early 80s.

Letters: 'a', 'c', 'e', 'f', 'g', 'j', 'r', 's', 't' and 'y' have strokes that end in a slant in Arial, while in Helvetica they end on the horizontal or perpendicular; however, it can be hard to discern the slanted start or end stroke on the letters: 'f', 'g', 'j' and 'y' at smaller sizes.

Russell McGorman's picture
Joined: 25 May 2006 - 10:01am
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I don't need to know the difference :o)

-=®=-

Matt McInerney's picture
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Matt, where did you get the reference for Zapf’s two?

Michael, do you mean my reference image for Zapf's Palatino and Monotype's clone?

I’m not sure where the myth Microsoft didn’t want to pay royalties for Helvetica stems from but it’s pretty ludicrous when you consider that the Microsoft logo is actually Helvetica minus the tweaked ’o’ and the custom kerning (Why wasn’t that one on the test). Furthermore, Microsoft doesn’t own Arial, Monotype does and Microsoft licenses the font from them.

I was hasty in saying Microsoft commissioned Arial. Indeed, they don't own it, I should have said they popularized it. But the royalty issue is still an issue. Obviously Arial was cheaper from Monotype than Helvetica was through Linotype. And the fact that Microsoft use it for their own logo doesn't really have anything to do with the fonts they package with their software. Licensing a font for a logo and for a software package vary greatly in price.

I think the issue is that Microsoft picked the cheaper font to license thinking no one would know the difference. Obviously we all know the difference and the differences in the design of Arial are seemingly arbitrary.

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Thomas Phinney's picture
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19/20. Toyota messed me up, too.

T

klickverbot's picture
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19/20 – I lost one point at »MATTEL« too.

stormbind's picture
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There could be a multitude of reasons why one font is selected over another.

Did Microsoft confess to have selected Arial because nobody would notice the difference?

Matt McInerney's picture
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There could be a multitude of reasons why one font is selected over another.

Did Microsoft confess to have selected Arial because nobody would notice the difference?

I've never heard a Microsoft employee discuss it. It just seems like the only answer. Why would you select a typeface with the exact same widths and spacing of one of the most popular typefaces in the world instead of just selecting that popular typeface?

There were other options, similar typefaces like Univers or even Monotype's Grotesque, but of course those don't share the same metrics as Helvetica.

And it's not like Arial is the only example of this. Segoe is a pretty recent example of Microsoft purchasing a Frutiger clone from Monotype. In this case it seems like an example of Monotype (who now owns Linotype) not willing to sell the Frutiger trademark so selling a knock off typeface instead.

If you can find any real information about why Microsoft really did select Arial, I'd love to see it. Mark Simonson wrote a great article on the subject a little while ago, The Scourge of Arial.

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stormbind's picture
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I suggest that the same width and spacing would be desirable for reasons such as interoperability and graceful degradation.

However, this quality does not prevent introducing a new font. In essence, backwards compatibility allows some flexibility in design, provided that the technical metrics are unchanged.

Also note that sliding-scale economics in licensing means that a wealthy firm such as Microsoft might be asked to pay more than the going rate. I am not saying this is applicable, but its reasonable to think that licensing on such a large scale may have involved negotiation. In other words, Linotype may have thought they had Microsoft by the short & curlies, and subsequently upset Microsoft in the board room.

I believe that Bill Gates once advocated the philosophy that power resides with those who control the underlying property. I am too lazy to seek a quote.

Toshi Omagari's picture
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0/20
Another way to prove it.

Christopher Timothy Dean's picture
Joined: 22 Oct 2006 - 10:49pm
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So I started working with my supervisor professor Raymond Klein, currently the chair of the department of psychology for Dalhousie University, in 2007. Before he met me, he didn't even know what a serif was. Now, he knows who Mike Parker is and what makes the typeface Starling so significant (Parker read me an amazing back story he had written a while ago). He even went to the opening night for Helvetica without me and, and yesterday, he paid $100 to have the poster from the film framed. Needless to say, it's his favourite font. He's even started reading Bringhurst following a talk he gave at NSCAD University (and yes, I got him to sign my copy).

I sent him the "Can you tell Helvetica from Arial?" test and this is the email I got in return:

"I got 18 too!
Some of the all caps were hard and the G in AGFA and TARGET got me.
If I had done some of the other all caps earlier I might have picked up on the tiny difference between the cap As

So, you should be very proud of your student!"

Praise from Caesar. Thanks Ray.

(PS: how do I indent a block quote?)

John Hudson's picture
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Matt: I think the issue is that Microsoft picked the cheaper font to license thinking no one would know the difference.

I doubt if licensing cost per se was the deciding factor. Microsoft was already involved in a production relationship with Monotype -- there were Monotype staff at Microsoft doing the TT hinting -- and Arial needs to be seen as part of a package with Times New Roman and Courier New.

I also don't think Microsoft thought 'no one would know the difference' between Arial and Helvetica; rather, the difference simply didn't matter to Microsoft. They had a technical requirement for a sans serif core font: that it match Helvetica metrics such that documents created in Windows with Arial could be printed from a printer that used Helvetica.

Segoe is a pretty recent example of Microsoft purchasing a Frutiger clone from Monotype. In this case it seems like an example of Monotype (who now owns Linotype) not willing to sell the Frutiger trademark so selling a knock off typeface instead.

At the time Segoe was developed, Monotype did not yet own Linotype. Far from Linotype being unwilling to license the Frutiger trademark, they had already licensed 'Frutiger Linotype' to Microsoft as a core font for the MS Reader. There really isn't a good explanation for Segoe if it is seen from the perspective of Microsoft looking for something that resembled Frutiger, because they already had a license for Frutiger. So clearly that perspective is erroneous. What MS were looking for, and what they had commissioned Monotype to produce, was a new UI font. I suspect the technical spec for this font was a lot more detailed than the design spec, which was probably pretty vague, e.g. ‘clean, modern’. And Monotype delivered what is either a deliberate Frutiger clone or something that by chance, from seeking to meet the technical and design briefs, turned out to be so much like Frutiger as to appear a clone to most people.

Having had some experience of delivering fonts for bundling with major software, and knowing how software development cycles work, I suspect there was a point at which MS either had to accept Segoe or throw a wrench in the entire Vista development schedule.