Can You Distinguish Helvetica from Arial?

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If you’re a font geek, or just want to challenge your powers of observation, check out David Friedman’s online quiz that asks you to identify which of two nearly identical logos is in Helvetica, as opposed to Arial.

In short samples like those, it makes no difference. But in the 20000 word printed material I used to publish in the 90s, Helvetica takes up less space. More space = more money in printed material.

An all-caps logotype that uses none of the telltales (G, Q, for instance) will be very hard to distinguish. There are significant differences in the lowercase letters. Helvetica was designed for universal appeal, and Arial for personality.

So it should be obvious that I scored 18 out of 20, missing the Staples and Mattel logos. :slight_smile:

I found that in a lot of the examples, Helvetica was heavier and darker. Then I looked at letters like: c, a, r, and R—Helvetica seemed to favor stronger verticals and horizontals, whereas angles seemed to indicate Arial.

I goofed on Staples and Mattel also. Kerning is usually a dead giveaway with Ariel, and it’s harder to do with logos.

There’s an excellent movie, “Helvetica,” available on Amazon streaming and Netflix DVD. Even if you’re not interested in typography, it’s a great description about how influential and versatile this typeface has been in the modern era. It’s beautifully directed, and the commentators and interviewers are funny and enthusiastic. It’s also available on YouTube, but it would look so much better in higher res.

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To me that’s the best indication.

I still ended up getting Mattel wrong. I’m not a font or typography buff (I am interested though) so I’m feeling really good about myself right now. ;)

My problem with Arial is that the letterforms don’t seem to work well together. To me, words tend to look clutzy and sentences and paragraphs look jumbled. Helvetica is better proportioned and more readable.

I made lickety-split gut decisions and did 16 out of 20! Happy enough about that.