Why Arial is Bad

Joining Pat’s “Why Kenny G is Bad” post is this article, letting you know why arial is the most hated font in all the land and why it sucks in the first place.

How to Spot Arial” is an article I recommend highly because it shows closeups of letterforms and compares Helvetica, Arial, and Grotesque (what a name). I believe you can gain an understanding of the awful inconsistencies of Arial from this. I hope.

DanRecommendations11/12/03 14 comments


Dad • 11/12/03 4:02 PM:

I thought Comic Sans was the most hated. Regarding Arial, I am sorely tempted to say, “Who cares,” but I know it matters to you. I agree that Helvatica is better than Arial once you blow them up to 36 font, but it’s unnoticeable at normal size. I like Simonson’s analysis as another reason to hate MicroSoft, but otherwise, it comes across like the fashion industry promoting wider ties. I would also take his opinion more seriously if it were not for his ridiculous logo. Look’s like “Mark Gimonson.” And that sunburst thing reminds me of something I’ve seen on the back of old carpets. I’m no designer, but I know what I like. Anyway, what font does Tommy Gofigure like?

Dan • 11/13/03 3:20 PM:

Don’t even talk about comic sans. That’s beyond bad.

Second, do not compare a typeface to clothing. Nobody is getting rich off of selling typefaces (I can’t imagine, anyway). It is not the same principle in action here. People buy Tommy Hilfiger to be cool and hip. People buy Helvetica because it is a legible, suave, stylized face that communicates a mood. It is not a money-grubbing line that targets itself to different markets.
that doesn’t make all that much sense but I’m leaving it.

Subtle type differences are hard to notice on a computer for sure (though we have these guys fooled), but in print you can tell pretty well, even in 8 or 10 point font. I’m glad that once you go a few levels deeper into design, into say, typography, it stops becoming about pushing a product or turning a profit. It’s about creating aesthetic forms that can be well read and inspire a mood. If you make money for it, that’s icing (like, in hockey).

It’s hardly believable that people would do this kind of stuff, but it’s the same principle in effect for computer software forums. There’s these websites where you can post a question and, if somebody knows the answer, he/she will post the answer. There’s no money involved. It’s a concept that is becoming harder and harder to comprehend.

I should mention that Linux, the operating system (OS) of choice for computer geeks who know everything about anything, was created (and still is) as freeware. Linus Torvalds had this idea for an OS and he made it. Then he posted it online, and other people liked it, improved it, and now, 10 years later, it’s the most powerful dang thing in the universe. All done by people who demanded something better, and, obviously, for free.

David • 11/13/03 4:08 PM:

In a few minutes I’ll finish reading all this. I just can’t believe I read the following. I’m hoping that Dan can’t believe it either.

“People buy Helvetica because it is a legible, suave, stylized face that communicates a mood.” Suave? What mood? seriously.

(I do agree with most of the other stuff though)

Dan • 11/13/03 4:22 PM:

Examples of Typeface Moods

Bodoni—formality, aristocracy, modernity
Century Expanded—Elegance, clarity
Franklin Gothic—urgency, bluntness
Garamond—grace, worth, fragility
Times New Roman—tradition, efficiency

and finally, Helvetica—Suave, able to beat Dave up with a finger flick

Dan • 11/14/03 2:59 PM:

For an interesting comparison between fonts, see these poems about typefaces, set in the typefaces.

Dan • 12/03/03 1:02 PM:

Pat’s argument below is the Metheny vs. Kenny G comment he made, I simply replaced words here and there.

I think my argument against arial hangs heavily on the ethos of design/typography as an artform, not just as “shapes/colors/letters.” So I think my argument is a sort of comparison, or holding up to standards. Design/Typography in general does have standards: things like originality, passion, intention and motivation (do you design because you love to design, or to make money).

Patrick • 12/05/03 3:31 PM:

Dan, people really really hate when you link to their images off of their sites. Especially when you don’t even credit them. What are you, some kind of cyber pyrate or something? Anyway, I’ve changed it so that at least you’re giving credit where it’s due. But why not just link to the dang thing? Confirm, and we will do that.

Also, quit italicizing whole paragraphs, or I will body-drop you.

Dan • 12/05/03 3:38 PM:

I prefer “ciber pirate.” Now that I know how to block indent, I will block indent! I was being LAZY! That is nothing new for me. It is my default!

Patrick • 12/05/03 4:00 PM:

Heh heh. So, do we just link to them and remove that image from our page? I’m serious. People hate image squatting (or whatever you want to call it) because it uses their server’s resources for unauthorized uses of their resources.

Patrick • 12/05/03 4:02 PM:

By the way, you know how dictatorial I can be. Don’t tempt me to turn off the italic/emphasis tag. I can and will do it.

Dan • 12/05/03 6:07 PM:

Just link the gif. Can you turn this off?

Patrick • 12/05/03 10:13 PM:

Henceforth, both the <i> and the <em> tags are illegal in comments. Try them. See if they work. Piss me off more, and I’ll take them out of entries.

Patrick • 12/06/03 1:59 PM:

Okay, since that didn’t elicit any response quickly enough, I’ve turned the italicizing tags back on. I was happy to see that when I turned them off, all the italics were gone, but when I turned them back on, all italics were restored with no work by me. In any case, don’t be an octo-weenie! (I guess that refers to another entry, but it’s going on about this same time (comment-wise).)

Dad • 12/06/03 7:57 PM:

Is that a new “emoticon” at the end of your comment, Patrick, indicating a one-eyed smiley-face? I think I like it.) Or maybe we should put a patch over his eye, like a pirate. P)

As for the features you allow in comments, etc., all I have to say is, why do I still see that tired, old photo still on the front page of this blog? Why can’t I put photos and figures in my entries? Why can’t we search comments? Why can’t I spell check my entries?

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