Arial or Helvetica?

Arial or Helvetica?

Once there was a typeface called Helvetica.

It was extremely popular.

Later came a software company called Microsoft.

They “borrowed” Helvetica for their operating system and called it Arial.

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?

Seemingly, Arial was designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders — good name! — for Monotype.

Take the quiz.


I got 7/10.

Getting there ... I scored 7 out of 10.

Published by

Gareth Saunders

I’m Gareth J M Saunders, 52 years old, 6′ 4″, father of 3 boys (including twins). Enneagram type FOUR and introvert (INFP), I am a non-stipendiary priest in the Scottish Episcopal Church, I sing with the NYCGB alumni choir, play guitar, play mahjong, write, draw and laugh… Scrum master at Safeguard Global; latterly at Sky and Vision/Cegedim. Former web architect and agile project manager at the University of St Andrews and previously warden at Agnes Blackadder Hall.

3 thoughts on “Arial or Helvetica?”

  1. Last week I saw the Helvetica documentary at Rhode Island School of Design: Thumbs up (Way up!). If you’ve ever thought twice before hitting “Print,” or wondered at the mystery of (graphical) creation, see Helvetica. The DVD is due out at the end of the summer with a great blooper reel included.

  2. I got 8/10!

    Now that I know the differences, I prefer Helvetica. I always would, by default, as a Mac lover, but the upper case ‘R’ in Helvetica is so much nicer than the one in Arial. And my name requires a big R.

    Gareth, the upper case ‘G’ is also significanrly different between the two typefaces, which is your preference?

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