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Helvetica Alternatives

See also: Industrial Sans

Noah Nazir
Last edited August 10, 2018

Helvetica is one of the most famous and popular typefaces in the world. It lends an air of lucid efficiency to any typographic message with its clean, no-nonsense shapes. The original typeface was called Neue Haas Grotesk, and was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger for the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) in Switzerland. In 1960 the name was changed to Helvetica (an adaptation of "Helvetia", the Latin name for Switzerland). Over the years, the original Helvetica family was expanded to include many different weights, but these were not as well coordinated with each other as they might have been. In 1983, D. Stempel AG and Linotype re-designed and digitized Neue Helvetica and updated it into a cohesive font family. At the beginning of the 21st Century, Linotype again released an updated design of Helvetica, the Helvetica World typeface family. This family is much smaller in terms of its number of fonts, but each font makes up for this in terms of language support. Helvetica World supports a number of languages and writing systems from all over the globe.Helvetica World, an update to the classic Helvetica design using the OpenType font format, contains the following Microsoft code pages:1252 Latin 1, 1250 Latin 2 Eastern, 1251 Cyrillic, 1253 Greek, 1254 Turk, 1255 Hebrew, 1256 Arabic, 1257 Windows Baltic, 1258 Windows Vietnamese, as well as a mixture of box drawing element glyphs and mathematical symbols & operators. In total, each weight of Helvetica World contains 1866 different glyph characters!Many customers ask us what good non-Latin typefaces can be mixed with Helvetica World. Fortunately, Helvetica World already includes Greek, Cyrillic and a specially-designed Hebrew in its OpenType character set. But Linotype also offers a number of CJK fonts that can be matched with Helvetica World.Chinese fonts that pair well with Helvetica World:DF Hei (Simplified Chinese)DF Hei (Traditional Chinese)DF Li Hei (Traditional Chinese)DFP Hei (Simplified Chinese)Japanese fonts that pair well with Helvetica World:DF GothicDF Gothic PDFHS GothicKorean fonts that pair well with Helvetica World:DFK Gothic

No cross railing lest suddenness happens

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In 1983, D. Stempel AG redesigned the famous Helvetica typeface for the digital age, creating Neue Helvetica for Linotype: a... Read More

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Folio® was designed by Konrad F. Bauer and Walter Baum, and released in several weights and widths by the Bauer Type Foundry from 1956 to 1963. This legible sans serif family was designed around the same time as Helvetica, and in many ways it is quite similar to Helvetica. There are some notable differences in certain characters, like the lowercase a, and the caps G and Q. The designers of... Read More

Living to fry the beef rice

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The family that became FF Meta was first called PT55, an economical typeface made for easy reading at small sizes created for the West... Read More

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On the way back to the airport from the 1994 ATypI conference in San Francisco, Albert-Jan Pool... Read More

Do not joke for the bathroom

“Schulbuch” is German for “school book.” This series of small type families named after regions in Germany shows geographic nuance: FF Schulbuch Nord for northern Germany, FF Schulbuch Süd for southern Germany, and FF Schulbuch Bayern for the state of Bavaria. Each of the three includes Regular and Bold weights. The typefaces themselves were drawn by Just van Rossum. The letterforms are based... Read More

Holy cow no responsible for your car

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FF Fago is the quintessential corporate typeface, a result of many years of work within the challenges and requirements of complex... Read More

Smoking is friend of mental activity

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The aim with this enhancement of Hans Reichel’s mega-popular FF Dax typeface was to balance the contrast so that the letters would work... Read More

Do not spit too loud, thank you

The Slate typeface family melds superb functionality and aesthetic elegance into a remarkable communications tool. Few typefaces possess the beauty and power of this design.Slate is the work of Rod McDonald, an award-winning typeface designer and lettering artist. At one point in his forty-year career, McDonald participated in a typeface legibility and readability research project conducted by... Read More

Misery loves bacon and cheese

Albany, from Monotype Imaging, is a typeface family whose fonts have the same metrics as Arial. However, in contrast to Arial or Helvetica, Albany's letterforms are more open, with more generous apertures and counters. Also, punctuation is not square, as in Arial, but round

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FF Kievit explores the synthesis of the sans serif form to the structure and proportions of a traditional Renaissance Roman such as... Read More

Living to fry the beef rice

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Basic Commercial is a font based on historical designs from the hot metal typeface era. It first appeared around 1900, and was created by... Read More

SG Granby SB Stephenson Blake Elsner+Flake
Dog pawprints on your clothes

Similar in design to Franklin Gothic, News Gothic was one of a number of sans serif faces manufactured by American Type Founders in the early years of the twentieth century. Initially cut as a light sans, heavier versions were made in the 1940s and 50s along with some condensed weights. The News Gothic font family offers an uncomplicated design that is well suited for use in newspapers and... Read More

Houston, we have a problem

The impetus behind Felbridge was both ambitious and highly practical: to develop an ideal "online" typeface for use in web pages and electronic media. Robin Nicholas, the family's designer, explains, "I wanted a straightforward sans serif with strong, clear letterforms which would not degrade when viewed in low resolution environments." Not surprisingly, the design also performs exceptionally... Read More

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Twentieth Century was designed and drawn by Sol Hess in the Lanston Monotype drawing office between 1936 and 1947. The first weights were added to the Monotype typeface library in 1959. Twentieth Century is based on geometric shapes which originated in Germany in the early 1920's and became an integral part of the Bauhaus movement of that time. Form and function became the key words,... Read More

EF Today Sans Serif H Volker Küster Elsner+Flake 1988
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No news is the mother of invention

Helvetica is one of the most famous and popular typefaces in the world. It lends an air of lucid efficiency to any typographic message with its clean, no-nonsense shapes. The original typeface was called Neue Haas Grotesk, and was designed in 1957 by Max Miedinger for the Haas'sche Schriftgiesserei (Haas Type Foundry) in Switzerland. In 1960 the name was changed to Helvetica (an adaptation of... Read More

Max Miedinger and Linotype Design Studio
Linotype 1957
Gert Wunderlich
Elsner+Flake 1970
Walter Baum and Konrad Friedrich Bauer
Matthew Carter
Microsoft Corporation
Erik Spiekermann, Oded Ezer and Akaki Razmadze
FontFont 1991
Albert-Jan Pool
FontFont 1995
Just van Rossum
FontFont 1991
Viktor Kharyk and Anatoly Shchukin
Ole Schäfer and Andreas Eigendorf
FontFont 2000
Hans Reichel
FontFont 2005
Rod McDonald
Monotype 2006
Monotype.Design Studio
Michael Abbink and Paul van der Laan
FontFont 2001
Linotype Design Studio
Linotype 1900
Ole Schäfer
primetype 2004
Stephenson Blake
Morris Fuller Benton
Monotype 1908
Adrian Frutiger, Akira Kobayashi, Nadine Chahine, Anuthin Wongsunkakon, Monotype.Design Studio, Yanek Iontef, Toshi Omagari, Aleksei Chekulaev, Akaki Razmadze and Elena Papassissa
Linotype 2003
Max Miedinger
Bitstream 1982
Robin Nicholas
Monotype 2010
Luc(as) de Groot
LucasFonts 2022
Sol Hess
Monotype 1959
Volker Küster
Elsner+Flake 1988
Chauncey H. Griffith
Bitstream 1938