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The Scourge of Arial
August 9, 2005 12:35 PM   Subscribe

The Scourge of Arial. It has spread like a virus through the typographic landscape and illustrates the pervasiveness of Microsoft's influence in the world. Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character. In fact, Arial is little more than a shameless impostor...
posted by Robot Johnny (97 comments total)

 
Wherever I find you arial, I promise to kill you!
posted by helvetica at 12:36 PM on August 9, 2005


No, no, no, the free market is always right.

Therefore, Arial is the best. font. evar. /sarcasm

I hate Arial.
posted by teece at 12:43 PM on August 9, 2005


Pfft. Everybody knows Comics Sans is the best font ever.
posted by keswick at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2005


Helvetica--

How amazingly meta (especially since everyone's reading that in Arial).

Actually, lets be honest...the disastrous situation of fonts on Linux for a while (only partially mitigated by Bitstream Vera, to be honest) brings credence to the argument that Microsoft's default typography, more than good enough, is alot better than however bad typefaces could be.

--Dan
posted by effugas at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2005


How amazingly meta (especially since everyone's reading that in Arial).

Bzzt, wrong. Metafilter's in Verdana.

FWIW, I find Arial pretty inoffensive, compared to say, genocide.
posted by fungible at 12:49 PM on August 9, 2005


If you can tell these two letters apart then your font is better than Arial: " I l "
posted by nervousfritz at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2005


Arial, however, has a rather dubious history and not much character.
So is she the latest one going out with Brad Pitt? I can't keep up.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 1:02 PM on August 9, 2005


Isn't Verdana also an MS creation?
posted by Artw at 1:03 PM on August 9, 2005


There are two types of people in the world:

Those who care about typography, and the other six billion.
posted by Eamon at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2005


From the last link: This inferior typeface is now on millions of desktops all over the world.

Can you tell the difference between the original and the rip-off in these ten examples?


How can something be both inferior and indistinguishable? They need to bitch about one or the other.
posted by Justinian at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2005


nervousfritz : "If you can tell these two letters apart then your font is better than Arial: ' I l '"

Serif fonts are automatically better than sans-serif fonts?
posted by Bugbread at 1:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Does everyone know about the 6 new Windows Vista fonts that are available for XP? Constantia is a nice TNR alternative, as Candara is to Verdana.
posted by Brian James at 1:11 PM on August 9, 2005


Aha, the article not even about screen fonts, and in fact admits arial works perfectly fine on screen.

FWIW Verdana looks a lot worse in print than arial as far as I can tell.
posted by Artw at 1:13 PM on August 9, 2005


FWIW, I find Arial pretty inoffensive, compared to say, any version of Times shudder.
posted by Slothrup at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2005


bugbread writes "Serif fonts are automatically better than sans-serif fonts?"

Not all sans-serif fonts do away with the crossbars on the capital I. Case in point: Veranda. Those crossbars aren't serifs, technically speaking.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:18 PM on August 9, 2005


Ah, thanks.
posted by Bugbread at 1:19 PM on August 9, 2005


FWIW Verdana looks a lot worse in print than arial as far as I can tell.

Verdana was designed specifically for the screen and not for print (as were Trebuchet and Georgia, and Comic Sans for what it's worth (which isn't much!)).
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2005


Don't forget Ban Comic Sans.
posted by mrbill at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2005


Trebuchet MS rocks, btw.

corbel is an intresting font as well, sadly metafilter stripped my glorious font tag.
posted by delmoi at 1:22 PM on August 9, 2005


Semi-side note: I worked for a company whose 'house' typeface was Verdana, and I had to do approximately nine billion pieces of printed collateral in that dog.

Not a one looked good. And I don't think it was a case of a poor craftsman blaming his tools.
posted by ImJustRick at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2005


Bradley Helvetica looked steadily across the softly lit table at the lovely Arial, she of the remarkably clean lines, carefree and unfettered by the gaudy serifs that so many of her generation had affected. She had asked him to dinner tonight in the hopes of finally getting him to commit to the long-term relationship she had been looking for -- quietly at first, then eagerly, now almost in blind desperation.

But Bradley was not biting. Despite the warmth of the candles' glow, Arial saw nothing but ice in his eyes as he leaned forward, and uttered what she had always hoped in her heart of hearts she would never hear...

"Sorry kid, you're just not my type."
posted by Mike D at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2005


The web is what truly made Arial ubiquitous. Since damn near every computer on earth that was ever touched in any way by a Microsoft product had Arial installed, it quickly became the default sans-serif font for the web.

As for Comic Sans...
posted by Thorzdad at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2005


I spit on the ubiquitous Arial. Never shall I conform!
I like to change fonts every now and then, and am currently using MS San Serif which looks like y2karl's mini-print, but supply TNR12 if the editor specifies it.
posted by Cranberry at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2005


From the article,

For better or worse, in many countries—particularly the U.S.—while typeface names can be protected legally, typeface designs themselves are difficult to protect.

Actually, from what I understand the only thing you can protect is the name of the typeface, by using trademarks. These days, you can also protect the physical data representation that makes up the .ttf file and whatnot as well.
posted by delmoi at 1:28 PM on August 9, 2005


Agreed. It seems that every office is infested with Arial diehards.
posted by dreamsign at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2005




...donning fireproof underwear...

It's useful to know that typography can matter a lot, and there's something to be said for the ability to select fonts judiciously. But as a technical writer, I also realize the best can be the enemy of the good.

Usually all I need is one serif proportional font -- Times New Roman is good enough -- one sans-serif proportional, such as (gasp!) Arial, and a fixed-pitch font that doesn't look like either of them, as in Courier New. I don't have time to strive for "pretty," but I have to achieve "clearly and logically organized." Worrying about the relative advantages of all the different fonts available to me is a distraction. And what's worse, I've worked from time to time with technical writers who fuss over typography quite a bit, and sadly for them, for all their design sense, they couldn't explain technical concepts worth a damn.

If, as, and when I need to worry about an attractive professional design involving competent typographic decisions, I'll worry about whether Helvetica looks better than Arial. But in my workday, it basically never happens.
posted by alumshubby at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2005


I like Candara, despite it only getting so-so reviews or if I'm buying, Ocean Sans.
posted by BlueMetal at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2005


Heh. This guy's all 'design snob' and he uses table layout

(and Verdana, which is also the answer to the question that had me looking at his source).
posted by delmoi at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2005


Verdana sets too wide in print, yes. It was, however, custom-designed. It is an original typeface, whereas Arial is a knockoff.

Don't forget my Flickr group, A Hate-On for Arial.
posted by joeclark at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2005


I named my cat Arial. It's just a plain-looking black cat.
posted by icontemplate at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2005


This guy's all 'design snob' and he uses table layout

Form vs. function = designer vs. developer
Not everyone is both.
posted by Robot Johnny at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2005


Thank you for the link, Brian James.
posted by sageleaf at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2005


Metafilter: pretty inoffensive, compared to say, genocide.
posted by jlub at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2005


I find Arial pretty inoffensive, compared to say, genocide.

There are two types of people in the world: Those who care about typography, and the other six billion.


Right on, fungible. Right on Eamon.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 1:34 PM on August 9, 2005


alumshubby:

Why not just specify your text logicaly (like with XML or SGML) and let a designer come up with a stylesheet? Don't tell me you're hard-formatting all those little boxes and whatnot in Word.
posted by delmoi at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2005


' "Sorry kid, you're just not my type." posted by Mike D'
Oh Mike D, you have made me feel sorry for poor Arial, my eyes fill with tears for her, but that does not mean I like her.
Now I don't like Bradley Helvetica either.
posted by Cranberry at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2005


delmoi, is that a rhetorical question?

If not, here's why not: As I said, the best can often be the enemy of the good. Because I'm pounding out a whole lotta functional specfications and detailed interface designs -- yes, in Word, thankyouverymuch -- and there's no business case to be made for using any kind of markup. It's the usual pernicious tradeoff of getting a lot of work done as quickly and simply as possible with commonly available resources -- using a template already created in Word -- as opposed to creating structured documents and worrying about stylesheets. (A designer on this integration project? I'd be laughed out of the room for suggesting it.)
posted by alumshubby at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2005


I would think a large part of Arial's success is the fact that on a standard just-installed Windows box, it's the first font in the list.

For the same reason, Winnipeg has an 'A Aaaaa No 1 Moving and Storage' listed in the phone book.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 1:57 PM on August 9, 2005


When I feel like being a typeface snob, I skip both Helvetica and Arial for the distinctly arty Futura, as does Wes Anderson. Sorry, Matthew Carter; although, when I designed ads, I did use your Bell Centennial for clients who wanted so many words in thei ad that it looked like a phone book.
posted by maxsparber at 1:59 PM on August 9, 2005


My favorite font, although its use is limited, is Neutraface.
posted by mrbill at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2005


You know, getting upset about Helvetica vs. Arial is like getting upset about whether 'sand beige' is a knockoff of the colour 'burlap beige'.
posted by Nelson at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Arial's not so bad and the people who created it (Monotype not MS) have a great history. I used to work there and the font designers really put a lot of love and effert into every font.

They gave us Gill Sans which is one of my favourite fonts, so that balances any negative karma from Arial.

All digital fonts pale in comparison to the original Hot Metal fonts because each size was hand crafted to look perfect.

Digital fonts are resized from a single outline and are a compromise at best.
posted by Amrik at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2005


Create your own font... http://www.fontifier.com/

It's pretty cheap and no one can read my writing anyway.
posted by Psharden at 2:10 PM on August 9, 2005


When I feel like being a typeface snob, I skip both Helvetica and Arial ...

I propose we skip this whole argument and just go out and get typefaced.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2005


see also.
*ducks*
posted by arialblack at 2:26 PM on August 9, 2005


Because I'm pounding out a whole lotta functional specfications and detailed interface designs -- yes, in Word, thankyouverymuch -- and there's no business case to be made for using any kind of markup.

Actualy, Word has Stylesheets as well.
posted by delmoi at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2005


alumshubby - what kind of fool are you, thinking that content matters more than presentation? You mean to tell us that you spend your time thinking about what words to use, rather than how those words look? And you call yourself a "writer". Hah! I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up a well-reviewed book on a topic I like, only to toss it aside as worthless after noticing that it's not set in the right typeface. What kind of self-respecting reader would dare look at any content if it's in Arial? I mean, really!

It's amazing, the things people will choose to get snobby about...
posted by robhuddles at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2005


Perhaps this is bad to admit, but I happen to like Arial. I even write all sorts of reports and documents in it. Oh man.

I don't neccesarily consider myself a "typography snob", but I happen to think that Times New Roman looks like trash. :-P
posted by RockBandit at 2:39 PM on August 9, 2005


Bzzt, wrong. Metafilter’s in Verdana.

On my screen, it’s set in Myriad Condensed Web, courtesy of my userContent.css file in Firefox.

Of the new Windows Vista typefaces, Calibri in particular is a gorgeous sans-serif face; it should eventually enjoy the ubiquity on the Web that Verdana currently possesses.
posted by Spire at 2:49 PM on August 9, 2005


Don't listen to alumshubby. He thinks comma splices are okay. He is but a hack using "best as enemy of the good" as a cover. Flee flee flee!

[no alumshubbies were actually hurt in the making of this post. i hope.]
posted by dame at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2005


There are two types of people in the world: Those who care about typography, and the other six billion. posted by ZenMasterThis

Right on Eamon.
posted by ZenMasterThis


I hate you both.

Anywho, why does Arial look like poop? Well it's rare to fine a Postscript version, why bother when you have Helvetica. Postscript fonts come with kerning tables so 'WA' doesn't look like "W A". Imagesetters can't use TrueType, and their equivalent kerning tables.

aside from that people who use Helvetica constantly don't know typography. There are no bad typefaces, only typeface you know how to use. Helvetica is revered because it's vanilla. Any artist who uses it should be put on trial for designer malfeasance. You'll see Robert Bringhurst, Robert Slimbach and me at trial in full regalia waving our protest signs, set in 36pt TradeGothic Bold Condensed 20.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2005


To the degree I concern myself with typography in design, my primary criterion is usability and not aesthetics.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2005


I also think that if James T. Kirk can split an infinitive, well by God then so can I. :o)

I accept the "hack" sobriquet not as perjorative but as praise. I get paid by the hour for explaining stuff, and I've been able to keep a roof over my head for most of twenty years doing it, too. Hey, more power to you if you care about aesthetics over pragmatics...it must be nice to have time and energy to, um, invest in concerns like having a favorite typeface.
posted by alumshubby at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2005


Hah! I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up a well-reviewed book on a topic I like, only to toss it aside as worthless after noticing that it's not set in the right typeface.

Is it bad that I really will do that? I've seen way too many things that look interesting but are either entirely in a sans serif font or else in something I hate (Garamond, Mrs Eaves) and I'll skip it. I mean, the way something looks does count. Reading is a visual experince as much as anything else.
posted by dame at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2005


All of Amrik's claims can be readily disputed by anybody who wants to bother.
posted by joeclark at 3:08 PM on August 9, 2005


Hah! I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up a well-reviewed book on a topic I like, only to toss it aside as worthless after noticing that it's not set in the right typeface.

I am in trouble....I have done this. If I can not read it easily without having to figure out the difference in an o or an a I will not buy the book.
posted by bjgeiger at 3:19 PM on August 9, 2005


One tenet of typography that's stuck with me is that using a sans-serif font for body copy is often (not always) a bad idea, because the serifs supposedly help lead the eye along the lines of type. I remember getting a catalog from Carnegie-Mellon University, where I'd applied for admission into the undergraduate Technical Communication program. To this day I wonder if any of the faculty or students had anything to do with its layout. Something artsy and seventies like Kabel or Futura Light, all the way through; my eyes are watering with the memory of it.
posted by alumshubby at 3:24 PM on August 9, 2005


Apple LiGothic is quite nice and I like Futura too.

Casablanca Antique is nice but limited.

So is the "Underground/BBC" font, which I've conveniently forgotten the name of.

And mrbill, I really, really like the look of Neutraface... Oh, I wish I had a budget for fonts.
posted by davros42 at 3:51 PM on August 9, 2005


I'll just put my vote in for Franklin Gothic as a replacement for both Arial and Helvetica. Much nicer and easy on the eye.

I used to work in prepress, and there was nothing, nothing, nothing worse than getting a many-page document or book that was all set in Arial by someone using Quark or PageMaker on a PC. We would have to change the whole thing to Helvetica - imagesetters which make press plate film don't do TrueType (well, unless you send it all as outlines, which often would make the imagesetter choke on a big book) - which would totally reflow the document and necessitate complete hand re-layout of the document before running the proofs.

The only good part of it was seeing the shock on the client's face when they saw the $4000 charge for the handwork on their invoice, and then explaining to them that next time they need to use Postscript Helvetica to avoid that happening again. Sometimes vengeance is sweet.
posted by zoogleplex at 3:52 PM on August 9, 2005


davros42: Transport for London (inc. The Underground) use New Johnston and the Beeb use Gill Sans.

These days Helvetica Neue is what the smart kids use...

And for all you 'typeography don't matter' types, try learning about the basics of communication. You might end up getting your message accross.
posted by i_cola at 4:10 PM on August 9, 2005


i_cola : "And for all you 'typeography don't matter' types, try learning about the basics of communication. You might end up getting your message accross."

For all you "spelling don't matter, and grammer don't neither" types, try learning about the basics of communication. You might end up getting you message across.
posted by Bugbread at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2005


I'm a fan of typography, but, I'll tell you, it's status has waned in almost all the design companies oI have worked for — almost all populated by self-educated layout artists who trained themselves on computer layour programs. Particularly in small, upstart design companies and newspapers, even the essentials of typography have never been learned.

I have trued to make the case that typography is to text layout as grammar is to sentence construction, and that many of the layouts produced by people ignorant of typography are essentially producing ungrammatical design. But, then, I see the primary function of design as communication, and many seem to think its primary function is to make cool designs. As the general reader doesn't usually care about such minutiae as proper kerning and leading, or whether a first paragraph should be indented or not, sometimes it feels like arguing about angels dancing on the head of a pin.

But I am of the opinion that my layouts, which are made with good typography in mind, consistently communicate better than those of my contemporaries, who ignore typography. Thoughtful typeface choice is just one of a million careful decisions that go into a clear, readable design. And the readers may not really care about the details of typograpy, but they do care when a layout is confusing or unreadable.
posted by maxsparber at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2005


Apologies for typos, by the way. As a writer, I have never been able to get more than a sentence written without requiring an editor's eye.
posted by maxsparber at 4:26 PM on August 9, 2005


'Don't mistake legibility for communication.'
-D Carson
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:36 PM on August 9, 2005


I wish the world were written in Futura.


posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:02 PM on August 9, 2005


The only good part of it was seeing the shock on the client's face when they saw the $4000 charge for the handwork on their invoice, and then explaining to them that next time they need to use Postscript Helvetica to avoid that happening again. Sometimes vengeance is sweet.

HA HA! Oh man! Giving your clients a huge bill that they didn't expect is hilarious. I bet they had a big laugh.

BTW you owe me $500 for reviewing your post.
posted by Bonzai at 5:05 PM on August 9, 2005


I also think that if James T. Kirk can split an infinitive, well by God then so can I.

To boldly split infinitives which no man has split before...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 5:21 PM on August 9, 2005


zoogleplex, that's weird, because Arial was designed to be a drop-in replacement for Helvetica, so you wouldn't have to reflow text.
posted by zsazsa at 5:22 PM on August 9, 2005


Hah! I can't tell you the number of times I've picked up a well-reviewed book on a topic I like, only to toss it aside as worthless after noticing that it's not set in the right typeface.

I think it's perfectly acceptable to toss aside books or magazines with poor typeface choices when it actually impacts readability. Life is already too short to read everything; should I really want to spend the 4x additional time to read that Wired article that is medium green text on lime green and pink background along with overuse of italics, no serifs, and a font that makes certain letter combinations imposible to distinguish (rn and m for example)?

I like Helvetica's a and G better than Arials, but I can't say I'd really notice the difference if I weren't looking for it.

As someone who reads an average of 250 pages of text per day, peaking at about 1200, I find readability to be pretty essential. It doesn't always have to be a serif font, but it shouldn't be a 2000 page monospace font document for god's sake.

Thanks for Ocean and the pricey Neutraface.
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:46 PM on August 9, 2005


oops: Arial's
posted by BrotherCaine at 5:47 PM on August 9, 2005


All of Amrik's claims can be readily disputed by anybody who wants to bother.
posted by joeclark at 3:08 PM PST on August 9


Seriously; what was that all about?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:19 PM on August 9, 2005


"zoogleplex, that's weird, because Arial was designed to be a drop-in replacement for Helvetica, so you wouldn't have to reflow text."

That was the theory, but in practice it doesn't work out so well especially with very long page-to-page flows of type. The built-in inter-letter spacing in the TTF isn't the same as that of PostScript Helvetica, and over the course of pages, it reflows the type. As I recall the characters themselves were slightly different in width as well, not enough to see in a single paragraph. And then finally at the time that Arial was created, Microsoft's type designers weren't as experienced as the ones at Adobe, who came from traditional type design and did their best to match the nuances.

And Bonzai, I was exaggerating. Of course we let the client know we'd have to do a lot of hand work first and that it might run into the thousands. The petty satisfaction came from making them pay for not doing their homework before they created the document. And I do admit it was petty! Prepress is difficult and stressful, and a fair percentage of clients make it a lot more so... you take what joys you can get out of it, heh. I don't do that job anymore, and I'm sure not going back!
posted by zoogleplex at 6:27 PM on August 9, 2005


I really have to wonder why anyone would be pissed that Arial is similar to Helvetica. It makes me wonder if there is Mac vs PC diehard prejudice involved or some anti-MS axe to grind or something? As was stated earlier, you can't complain that it's indistinguishable while at the same time complaining that it's inferior. It's one or the other. And if the truetype wrapper doesn't meet your print preferences, don't use it.

It strikes me as useful to have a font that has allows a close match with an established font, due to the wide variety of different browsers people will be using. Maybe some people's dream world is a world with only four fonts that everyone has, but it's not mine.
posted by -harlequin- at 6:36 PM on August 9, 2005


zoogleplex, that's weird, because Arial was designed to be a drop-in replacement for Helvetica, so you wouldn't have to reflow text.
You're right, sort of...

Arial works with exactly the same spacing and kerning in TrueType, but not in the "real world" of Postscript, Photoshop, InDesign, and big expensive printers.
posted by blasdelf at 6:55 PM on August 9, 2005


It strikes me as useful to have a font that has allows a close match with an established font, due to the wide variety of different browsers people will be using. Maybe some people's dream world is a world with only four fonts that everyone has, but it's not mine.
The thing is, you can't copyright a Typeface, only the name. Microsoft could have told the people at Monotype to copy Helvetica exactly, change the name, and ship it.

But they didn't. They changed all kinds of litle details that give Helvetica it's uniqueness (like the signature lowercase a), and messed up the kerning and spacing. FOR NO GOOD REASON.

Somebody'd still bitch if Microsoft directly ripped off Helvetica, but at least it'd be the same.
posted by blasdelf at 7:02 PM on August 9, 2005


I must admit to being guily of using Arial at times. What other alternatives does MeFi recommend? I like Gill Sans or Humans. The company where I work suggests Swiss as a default.
posted by blue shadows at 7:18 PM on August 9, 2005


Somebody'd still bitch if Microsoft directly ripped off Helvetica

Yeah, this is how I see this issue - no matter what could have been done, people would still bitch, so I'm not inclined to respect the bitching, and rather more inclined to Just Deal With It.

but at least it'd be the same

Maybe. Equipment incompatibilities with TTF and PS would most likely inject differences, and the results probably wouldn't be the same :-)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:21 PM on August 9, 2005


I must admit to being guily of using Arial at times. What other alternatives does MeFi recommend?

I recommend ignoring out-of-perspective pet-peeves and use whatever is best for the task at hand. And the way the world is Right Now, some of the time, that's going to include Arial.
:-)
posted by -harlequin- at 7:27 PM on August 9, 2005


BrotherCaine....Interesting site. Thanks.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:30 PM on August 9, 2005


Simple, stupid question, but I can't find the answer:
Does anyone know what the system font is for OS X?
posted by fungible at 7:36 PM on August 9, 2005


Myriad is the OS X and Apple Marketing/Branding font.
posted by blasdelf at 8:33 PM on August 9, 2005


That's good to know. But the system font seems different - lowercase "a" has a tail, and the "G" has no horizontal bar. I have no idea why I'm obsessed with finding this out.
posted by fungible at 8:56 PM on August 9, 2005


The system font for OS X is Lucida Grande - a display version of Lucida Sans.

What's interesting about the whole Arial flap (to those who consider it such) is that Microsoft has seemingly done it again. Witness Segoe, a font that's suspiciously similar to Frutiger. Which is a shame, given the investment in original designs discussed earlier.

Of course, there are those who would argue that Adobe's Myriad is a knockoff of Frutiger.
posted by O9scar at 9:35 PM on August 9, 2005


Thoughtful typeface choice is just one of a million careful decisions that go into a clear, readable design. And the readers may not really care about the details of typograpy, but they do care when a layout is confusing or unreadable.

maxsparber, if I ever find the time, I may embroider that on a pillow.
posted by whatnot at 9:49 PM on August 9, 2005


"How amazingly meta (especially since everyone's reading that in Arial).

Speak for yourself: besides bestowing upon y'all my eloquent wisdom, I paid Mr. H. $5 to view Metafilter in the font of my choice, currently Times New Roman.

And to address another thread here, I can barely decipher black letter fonts.
posted by davy at 9:57 PM on August 9, 2005


I love Luxi Sans, myself.
posted by jiawen at 10:11 PM on August 9, 2005


I tend to use Trebuchet wherever I can get away with it.
posted by Grimgrin at 12:29 AM on August 10, 2005


For all you "spelling don't matter, and grammer [sic] don't neither [sic]" types, try learning about the basics of communication. You might end up getting you [sic] message across.

Pot, meet kettle....

Or was that honestly intentional?
posted by randomstriker at 1:12 AM on August 10, 2005


Sometimes I think getting a mac was worth it just for Hoefler text. (Buying the font on its own would have cost $400, and the computer only cost $500. Ah, rationalizing silly purchases.)
posted by Tlogmer at 1:19 AM on August 10, 2005


Oh my God, Tlogmer... Hoefler is the first font I can ever remember seeing that actually made my jaw drop. it's stunning.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 1:52 AM on August 10, 2005


The Hoefler text ornaments are indispensable, although, now, sadly overused.
posted by maxsparber at 2:40 AM on August 10, 2005


randomstriker : "Pot, meet kettle....

"Or was that honestly intentional?"


Intentional.
posted by Bugbread at 5:12 AM on August 10, 2005


Thanks O9scar. Knew someone would have it.
posted by fungible at 7:41 AM on August 10, 2005


I read Metafilter in 12pt Times because serif fonts are easier to read. I chose Times because it's a default font on mostly all computers. I dislike sans-serif fonts when trying to read text online, especially blogs and the like. It's hard on the eyes.

(I also had to laugh at zoogleplex's anecdote about the Arial print job. I used to work at a printing company and I know where you're coming from. We had to reformat ads all the time because customers used Truetype fonts. That was back in the day before type could be embedded into pdfs--but even if type could have been embedded, most of the customers had no clue what they were doing when it came to getting stuff ready for the final print process.)
posted by cass at 8:11 AM on August 10, 2005


Heh cass, you know it. And embedding the TTFs in PDFs still doesn't always work, because your printer's imagesetter, and the RIP soft/firmware therein, may still be fifteen years old.

Of course, you can convert the type to paths, but try doing that for 100,000 word tech manual...

You know what's even better? When folks lay out a book in Word, using OLE-pasted graphics from PowerPoint! Which of course only defines colors in RGB! Try running THAT through the Lino or AGFA! (make sure you have plenty of antacid first...)

But folks, please, please, please don't use system fonts - Mac or PC - that are designed to be used onscreen like Verdana, Trebuchet. They don't look very good in print. Do a little bit of homework, you have the Intarnets! Find out which fonts are "screen fonts" and which are for print. And stick with PostScript! Or OpenType...

I can't count the number of times I had to shake my head and mutter back in the day when seeing the old MacOS (pre X) system font being used in print ads... *sigh*
posted by zoogleplex at 11:02 AM on August 10, 2005


I must be missing something. I admit I prefer serif fonts in general and as previously noted I like Times New Roman in particular (especially on screen; I wish I could see my typing into the comment preview box with serifs), but not enough to pay $400 for it or spooge on my keyboard over a Wikipedia page about it. What gives? Do you folks who really care about fonts also have a strong preference concerning sex partners' nipples shapes and sizes?
posted by davy at 10:32 AM on August 13, 2005


I just discovered this discussion...

I continue to be amazed at the amount of interest that has been generated since I first put up my rant about Arial over five years ago. All this for such a seemingly trivial topic.

I still feel the same way as I did when I wrote it: It's not so much the font as how it came to exist.

But, when it comes down to it, what can you do about something like Arial? Not much. Most designers use other fonts besides Helvetica and Arial anyway, so who cares? Still, I think it's good for people to know where things come from, especially something ubiquitous they take for granted which happens to have a questionable history.

As for my site, yeah, I admit it, a bunch of it still uses tables. Sorry about that. The newer parts don't. I'm working on it.

(Thanks to Robot Johnny for helping to keep my servers busy.)
posted by marksimonson at 8:14 PM on August 13, 2005


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