Helvetica… and your contracts house style

Helvetica is one of the most admirable typefaces. In this blog, I will explain why it is such a beautiful typeface and what it reflects. The notions below may help you define a proper corporate contracts house style.

Three typefaces stand out when you select the font for a contracts house style: Helvetica, Times New Roman and Garamond. They are present on virtually every computer and will therefore show up on each printer. With the introduction of MS Windows (notably version 3.0 or 3.11) in our lives, everyone used to rely on the manufacturer’s printer drivers (you may remember HP Laserjet (or Deskjet)) and each new computer program came with floppies filled with the drivers of the then currently available printers. The manufacturers forced us to use predefined, fixed sized fonts. Many of you will remember the awful Courier font. One of the typefaces, which was not by default on each printer, was Helvetica.

History. It was designed in 1957, at the turn of an era: it is a symbol for the shift from the analog to the digital world, marking the growth of post-war confidence and European economy, as well as the very beginning of the digital age of word processing and consumer society. One may say that Helvetica is the perfection of what the pre-digital world offered. Many designers consider Helvetica to be a perfect typeface design.

Apple and Microsoft. Whilst the graphic industry’s computer, Apple Macintosh, could work with the original, the DOS and Unix-driven companies were limited by the fonts delivered with the printer. Windows made it possible to resize and reshape the default typefaces: sizeable and potentially more elegant. But Helvetica is a copyright protected design. Hence, Microsoft took the Helvetica and, in order to avoid copyrights, made its own copy of it. This surrogate of Helvetica is Arial. Its more computer-screen-friendly variant is Verdana.

Characteristics. Helvetica must be characterised as neutral, pragmatic and rational of structure, like the country where it was created and which inspired its naming: Switzerland. Helvetica makes texts look more ‘simple’, ‘accessible’ and ‘transparent’. You will appreciate that the professional look & feel of Helvetica (and accordingly, its representing the example of simplicity, intuitiveness and accessibility), its being a symbol of the turn of two eras (and accordingly, its being a sign of innovation) made it inevitable for Weagree to use Helvetica as the corporate typeface.

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