Which typeface is better: Helvetica or Akzidenz Grotesk?

Which typeface is better: Helvetica or Akzidenz Grotesk?


  • We don’t have to choose. Arial combines the best of both worlds.
  • I like the square shaped periods of both.
  • Gerstner-Programm
  • Which typeface is better: Helvetica or Akzidenz Grotesk?
    kidding, ey?  :D

    Every bad typeface is better than Helvetica.
  • It is hard to tell if we don’t define “better” first. Linotype Helvetica has more weights, so in that aspect is “better” than Akzidenz, but I like more some details of individual letters in the Regular cut of Akzidenz, specially in the uppercase (but I kind of love the horizontal endings in Helvetica, so…). Well, to be completely honest, actually I try to avoid both of them. Not my cup of tea. For that kind of work, now I am using Acumin, and I am very happy with it.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,058
    I’ve used both.
    Helvetica is more useful, having the greater available range of styles.
    But by the same token, it’s easier to go wrong with Helvetica.
  • The question I ask is "better at what for what purpose?" Type users chose a type for a given job, not a popularity contest. The proof is in the purpose of usage.
  • Sorry to go off an an Arial rant, but it's sort of relevant...maybe? I think Arial Nova is beautiful. It retains the right amount of that Akzidenz flavor and the italics have character. I've never used it for anything but I've always admired it. I don't think the fact that Arial was required to a fit within certain metrics requirement makes it bad. You may have reasons you think Arial is hideous but I don't think matching metrics makes a typeface bad. Lots of beloved typefaces were forced to fit into specific grids and other metric requirements. Arial being based on Monotype Grotesque probably brought some of it bad-ass character along with it. I love that typeface so much! The lawless structure of the family—you just don't get that in these days of precise variable typefaces and interpolated families. It could use some more italic styles and languge expansion but it's a treasure. I worry that someone will give it a "nova" treatment where it's forced to interpolate, like the new Univers and the condenses styles lose their flat sides.

    My point is: Arial is worthy of respect and I think @James Puckett was correct.
  • Helvetica is the "technically flawless" one.
    Which Helvetica? 
    This pit has no bottom.  >:)
  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,064
    edited September 2022
    Sorry to go off an an Arial rant, but it's sort of relevant...maybe? I think Arial Nova is beautiful.

    I don't completely disagree with you...
    My understanding is that Arial is generally regarded as hideous. My own opinion of it is not quite so harsh.
    Arial Nova may be beautiful; I'm not familiar with it. Having followed your link, and taken a look, I can definitely say that it is, at the least, acceptable, and indeed it may even be beautiful.
    Being required to fit metrics, in itself, isn't going to make a typeface bad or ugly. The selection of typefaces for the IBM Selectric Composer stands as proof of that, if proof was needed.

    My point is: Arial is worthy of respect and I think @James Puckett was correct.

    However, I do think that James Puckett was being intentionally sarcastic. Of course, I could be wrong.

  • No, that would be Univers. Helvetica wasn’t even the culmination of its own line: Helvetica Neue was produced to iron out the quirks and inconsistencies of Helvetica and extend it to a greater range of weights and widths to be more like ... Univers.

    And here I thought that Helvetica Neue was simply a money grab, and not legitimately needed because of any flaws in the original Helvetica.
    However, I definitely agree with you that Univers is superior to Helvetica - at least, in one important respect.
    In my opinion, Univers is somewhat "dry" compared to the original Helvetica. And the original Helvetica is a thing of beauty. However, while Helvetica is a magnificent display typeface, eminently suitable for its role in signage, for example, although some books have been typeset in it, which people have read without going blind... it is not a particularly good text typeface.
    Univers, on the other hand, is a monowidth sans-serif typeface that is also a good text typeface. It may no longer be unique in that respect, since it's been around long enough for its achievement to be copied, even in typefaces that aren't imitations of it, but I am inclined to credit it for proving that a monowidth sans-serif could even possibly be a decent text typeface.
    Trying to make a Helvetica that's still a Helvetica, but which also does what Univers is good at... seems to me like a misguided effort. One can certainly design a new typeface taking inspiration from both Helvetica and Univers, but that's something different.
  • Univers, on the other hand, is a monowidth sans-serif typeface

    I would add that Univers has noticeably more contrast than Helvetica.  This was a great distinction in the 60s and made it a landmark typeface for me from the day it was released in the USA.

  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,058
    Should be “Monoline”—with optical adjustments, of course.
    Monowidth means fixed width, as per typewriter.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 728
    edited September 2022
    The "best" typeface for any project is the most appropriate for its style.
    I wouldn't set the poster for "Fear and loathing in Las Vegas" in Helvetica, nor are the illustrations for the book in a clean and solid Victorian style.
    I remember that I collected German bandee dessine of Asterix as a kid. They were all set in a somewhat inappropriate Helvetica (I think it was Helvetica), which may be legible but it was not a comic book font.
    The "best" typeface for any project is the most appropriate for its style.

  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 1,064
    edited September 2022

    Finally, I got around to following my curiosity and did a search for this enigmatic name. And I located the following Forgotten Shapes article:

    which describes this typeface, designed by noted designer Karl Gerstner. It was designed with Akzidenz-Grotesk as a basis, and with painstaking care to have overall consistency.
    While the previously latest posts in this thread are absolutely right, in that the most important thing about a typeface is that it be appropriate for its intended use - and there are many different uses for type - so that it is often irrelevant, even if it were meaningful, that typeface "A" is better than typeface "B", I think that the quality of an individual typeface is also important to be aware of, since often for a particular application, where a specific kind of typeface is required, there are still many competing typefaces.
    Unlike Arial, I would venture to say that Gerstner-Programm does bid fair to be a typeface which provides the "best of both worlds" when compared to Akzidenz Grotesk and Helvetica.
    Actually, though, "article" may be the wrong word. On the right of the page is a preview of the various weights with "Add to Cart" links. I do hope the avalability of this Berthold typeface is not affected by Monotype's acquisition of Berthold. So perhaps Forgotten Shapes does other revivals of interest?

    EDIT: I looked at the main page. Of the revivals they offer, the only other one that caught my eye was Lector. This roman typeface, somewhat resembling - not so much Melior as some other popular modern roman the name of which escapes me - may have been designed (at least, doing so was suggested) to match the spacing of Times Roman.
    Could one imagine a world where Microsoft, unable to license Times Roman, made use of Lector instead, even as Arial substituted for Helvetica?
  • In addition to Gerstner-Programm, I have located another alternative typeface for those whose projects seem to demand Helvetica, but who wish to instead choose a typeface that indicates taste and discernment. Theinhardt.
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