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Home / Entertainment / Helvetica font receives makeover after 36 years: NPR

Helvetica font receives makeover after 36 years: NPR



Helvetica is celebrated and loathed for its ubiquity. Now the 62-year-old font is being redesigned for the digital age.

Jim Davis / Boston Globe about Getty Images


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Jim Davis / Boston Globe on Getty Images

Helvetica is celebrated and loathed for her ubiquity. Well, the 62-year-old font is getting a new face in the digital age.

Jim Davis / Boston Globe on Getty Images

It was used by brands like American Airlines, Panasonic and Toyota. It's all over the signage in the New York City subway. Even Google, Apple and Netflix used it for a while.

Helvetica is omnipresent throughout the world, but despite its popularity, writing has some problems: letters are crammed together in small sizes and the distance between them can be uneven.

Now, after 36 years, the widespread – and widely disputed – font is being redesigned.

The upgrade was designed by giant Monotype, Massachusetts, who controls licensing for Helvetica. The company has updated each of Helvetica's 40,000 characters for the digital age and offers three new sizes that work from billboard to the tiny screens of a smartwatch. The updated font even has a new name: "Helvetica Now".

However, many people are skeptical about many changes.

"If I'm completely honest, was my first reaction, do we need another Helvetica?" says Charles Nix, writer at Monotype.

The modified font became a trend topic on Twitter . Mitch Goldstein, a design professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology, wondered if the enthusiasm for Helvetica meant that the popular script could no longer be heard. This led to a large number of strong opinions on the Scriptures.

"Half of the people said," Awesome. It is dead. Finally! I'm so glad it's gone. It's the worst, "says Goldstein," and the other half of the people said, "Helvetica is unbelievable, she's never going to die." "

Why is Helvetica such a polarizing font?

"Helvetica is one of those writings that you love or hate, "says graphic designer Sarah Hyndman," Either you use it all the time, it's become a staple, or you feel like you've grown out of it, and it's a bit ubiquitous. "

Hyndman says Even though people do not like the new look Many agree that Helvetica needed to be changed.

"There are many weaknesses in Helvetica, like in the letter area," she says. "[letter ‘L’] is watching very much after [the number ‘1’]. "

YouTube [19659022] Helvetica was not the most versatile font in the toolbox, Nix admits. Now, he says, everything has changed.

"Previously, Helvetica could not be used for captions and small texts because it was a bit tight," he says. "Instead of being micro-challenged, we've created it like a micro-champion, so if you put subtitles in the new version of Helvetica, it's really singing."

This story was produced by Sophia for the radio and cut Boyd and Caitlyn Kim.


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