[NTLK] Grant, Grant, he's our man!

David Kendal davidpk212 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 5 18:39:55 EDT 2010

On 5 Nov 2010, at 22:20, Lord Groundhog <LordGroundhog at gmail.com> wrote:

> Oddly, it doesn't actually explain why Arial makes my eyes bleed to look at
> it.  Subjectively, I'm a calligrapher and that causes me to look at
> lettering of any kind in a certain way, and it's true that I'm fussy at the
> best of times.  But in many ways I look at letters from a different
> perspective than a typesetter would, and Arial is one of the fonts that just
> plain irritates me to look at.
> I just hoped somebody could tell me why.

I think it's because in comparison to Helvetica, Arial looks clumsy and unbalanced--a font almost unsure of its own character. Compare Helvetica's G to Arial's, and the most noticeable difference is that there's a spur supporting the right-hand side of the letterform in Helvetica, while Arial has none--it looks like the letter could just roll over onto its side. 

Even the R, another easy-to-spot difference, shows Arial's weakness. While Arial's doesn't look like the letterform could just topple over, it certainly doesn't look as secure as Helvetica's. There's also the difference in terminals, where Helvetica's are often flat and even-stroked and Arial's are sloped and often slightly thinner.

Other letters where the lack of security is clear in Arial are r, Q and the pound sign £. 

— dpk.  

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