Helvetica Font Family Information
The font is based on the earlier Akzidenz Grotesk typeface from around 1898. The typeface, originally titled Haas-Grotesk, is a very clean sans-serif face. The typeface became extremely popular in the 1960s, when it was widely used. In 1983, Linotype released the Helvetica Neue (German for "New Helvetica") typeface, based on Helvetica.
The typeface Arial, distributed with Microsoft Windows, has the same widths as Helvetica and almost identical characters, and was essentially created as a cheaper unauthorized Helvetica clone, which has lead to several criticisism towards Microsoft. One of the easiest ways to distinguish the two is their uppercase "R". Another way is looking at the "tail" of the a (lower right). This is easily seen in the illustration.
While Univers is acknowledged to be the most used Latin typeface in the world, Helvetica is widely used in countries such as France, the United Kingdom and the Nordic countries.
Helvetica is also one of the default typefaces for the Mac OS system. The typeface Nimbus Sans (one of the default typefaces for GNU/Linux) is based on Helvetica, as is Bitstreams Swiss 721 BT, which even bases its name on the same theme. Helvetica recently replaced Akzidenz Grotesk as the font used for the signs of the New York City subway system.
Sample of the Helvetica typeface
The following paragraph is in Helvetica if it is installed on your machine. If not, a monospace font is used. Note that this sample may include characters which are not present in the font, in which case some user agents may substitute a different font to display these characters.