This typeface had to go, and the classic that replaced it

I usually avoid change, but it was time for one.

Tahoma has served The Carolina Ledger newsletter well since I started it, but this week I finally ditched it, opting instead for Helvetica for headlines.

A Microsoft sans serif typeface, Tahoma was introduced in the 1990s to ease on-screen reading.

I replaced it with a classic, which was developed in Switzerland during the 1950s and re-branded a few years later. I chose it because of its clean design and rounded, balanced lettering. It invites you to read.

It’s easily recognizable because it’s so commonly used. But is this Swiss neutral classic–often found in ads, on book covers, and on business logos–overused?

Fast Company published an article about a designer who purposed to spend one day avoiding products that used Helvetica. He (almost) couldn’t. The test altered his daily habits, including what he wore and his ability to use the internet.

“[Helvetica] is ubiquitous because it fulfils so many demands for modern type,” the author wrote.

Helvetica serves another purpose–it’s email inbox-friendly. Even email marketing giant, Mailchimp frequently replaces web fonts, often unsupported by email clients, with compatible Helvetica fonts.

I don’t know if a typeface can be comforting, as the article states. But it can be familiar, beautiful and easy to read. Helvetica achieves that.

Tools of the type:

Fonts in use (a typographical archive)

Tiff app (shows contrasts between fonts)

Practical Typography



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