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Category Sans-serif
Classifications Neo-grotesque sans-serif
Designer(s) Robin Nicholas
Patricia Saunders
Foundry Monotype Imaging

Arial, sometimes marketed as Arial MT, is a sans-serif typeface and computer font packaged with Microsoft Windows, other Microsoft software applications, Apple Mac OS X, and many PostScript computer printers. The typeface was designed in 1982 by Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for Monotype Typography, with Type Solutions Inc. holding copyright (the Type Solutions Inc. copyright lasted until version 5.00).

Arial is also a typeface family comprising standard Arial (Arial Std) and variants, including Arial Black, Bold, Extra Bold, Condensed, Italic, Light, Medium, Monospaced, Narrow, and Rounded.


[edit] History

Arial was originally known as Sonoran Sans Serif.[1] It acquired its current name when Microsoft started to include it in Windows.[1]

Version 2.76 or later includes Hebrew and Arabic glyphs, with most of Arabic added on non-italic fonts.

Version 5.00 added support for Latin-C and Latin D, IPA Extension, Greek Extended, Cyrillic Supplement, Coptic characters.

[edit] Design characteristics

Helvetica (in red) overlaid with Arial (in blue)

Embedded in version 3.0 of the OpenType version of Arial is the following description of the typeface:

Contemporary sans serif design, Arial contains more humanist characteristics than many of its predecessors and as such is more in tune with the mood of the last decades of the twentieth century. The overall treatment of curves is softer and fuller than in most industrial style sans serif faces. Terminal strokes are cut on the diagonal which helps to give the face a less mechanical appearance. Arial is an extremely versatile family of typefaces which can be used with equal success for text setting in reports, presentations, magazines etc, and for display use in newspapers, advertising and promotions.

Though nearly identical to Linotype Helvetica in both proportion and weight (see figure), the design of Arial is in fact a variation of Monotype Grotesque,[2] and was designed for IBM's laserxerographic printer.[1] Subtle changes and variations were made to both the letterforms and the spacing between characters, in order to make it more readable on screen and at various resolutions.

The styling of Arabic glyphs comes from Times New Roman, which have more varied stroke widths than the Latin, Greek, Cyrillic glyphs found in the font. Arial Unicode MS uses monotone stroke widths on Arabic glyphs, similar to Tahoma.

The Cyrillic, Greek and Coptic, Spacing Modifier Letters glyphs initially introduced in Arial Unicode MS, but later debuted in Arial version 5.00, have different appearances.

[edit] Distribution

Arial was introduced as a TrueType font in 1990, and as a PostScript font in 1991.[citation needed] The TrueType edition has shipped as part of Microsoft Windows since the introduction of Windows 3.1 in 1992.[3]

Since 1999, Microsoft Office has shipped with Arial Unicode MS, a version of Arial that includes many international characters from the Unicode standard. This version of the typeface is the most widely distributed pan-Unicode font.

Arial MT, a PostScript version of the Arial font family, was distributed with Acrobat Reader 4 and 5.

PostScript does not require support for a specific set of fonts, but Arial and Helvetica are among the 40 or so typeface families that PostScript Level 3 devices typically support.[4][5]

Mac OS X, first released for the desktop in 2001, was the first Mac OS version to include Arial. The operating system ships with Arial, Arial Black, Arial Narrow, and Arial Rounded MT.

The inclusion of Arial with Windows has made it one of the most widely distributed and used typefaces in the world.

[edit] Retail fonts

Ascender Corporation sells the TrueType format of the fonts commercially. The Ascender fonts have 'WGL' at the end of the font name for the Arial and Arial Narrow families, and cover only the Windows Glyph List (WGL) characters.

In addition, Monotype also sells Arial in reduced character sets, such as Arial CE, Arial WGL, Arial Cyrillic, Arial Greek, Arial Hebrew, Arial Thai, Arial SF. WGL versions of the fonts include Arial (regular, bold, italics), Arial Black, Arial Rounded (regular, bold), Arial Narrow (regular, bold, italics). The TrueType core Arial fonts (Arial, Arial Bold, Arial Italic, Arial Bold Italic) support the same character sets as the version 2.76 fonts found in Internet Explorer 5/6, Windows 98/ME.

Version sold by Linotype also includes Arial Rounded, Arial Monospaced, Arial Condensed, Arial Central European, Arial Central European Narrow, Arial Cyrillic, Arial Cyrillic Narrow, Arial Dual Greek, Arial Dual Greek Narrow, Arial SF, Arial Turkish, Arial Turkish Narrow.

[edit] Arial variants

Here are the known variations of Arial:

  • Arial: Sometimes called Arial Regular to distinguish its width from Arial Narrow, it contains Arial (Roman text weight), Arial Italic, Arial Bold, Arial Bold Italic, and Arial Unicode MS
  • Arial Black: Arial Black, Arial Black Italic. This weight is known for being particularly heavy. This is because the face was originally drawn as a bitmap, and to increase the weight, stroke widths for bold went from a single pixel width to two pixels in width.
  • Arial Narrow: Arial Narrow Regular, Arial Narrow Bold, Arial Narrow Italic, Arial Narrow Bold Italic. This family is a condensed version.
  • Arial Rounded: Arial Rounded Light, Arial Rounded Regular, Arial Rounded Medium, Arial Rounded Bold, Arial Rounded Extra Bold. The regular versions of the rounded glyphs can be found in Gulim, Microsoft's Korean font set. Originally only available in bold form as Arial Rounded MT Bold, extra fonts appeared as retail products. In Linotype's retail version, only Arial Rounded Regular supports WGL character set.
  • Arial Special: Arial Special G1, Arial Special G2. They are included with Microsoft Encarta Virtual Globe 99, Expedia Streets and Trips 2000, MapPoint 2000.
  • Arial Light, Arial Medium, Arial Extra Bold, Arial Light Condensed, Arial Condensed, Arial Medium Condensed, Arial Bold Condensed: These fonts first appeared in the Linotype online stores. The condensed fonts do not have italic counterparts.
  • Arial Monospaced: In this monospaced variant, letters such as @, I, i, j, l (lowercase L), M, W are redesigned.

[edit] Arial Alternative

Arial Alternative Regular and Arial Alternative Symbol are standard fonts in Windows Me, and can also be found in Windows 95 and Windows XP's installation CD, or in Microsoft's site[1]. Both fonts are Symbol-encoded. These fonts emulate the monospaced font used in Minitel/Prestel teletext systems, but vectorized with Arial styling. The fonts are used by HyperTerminal.

Arial Alternative Regular contains only ASCII characters, while Arial Alternative Symbol contains only 2x3 braille characters.

[edit] Code page variants

Arial Baltic, Arial CE, Arial Cyr, Arial Greek, Arial Tur are aliases created in the FontSubstitutes section of WIN.INI by Windows. These entries all point to the master font. When an alias font is specified, the font's character map contains different character set from the master font and the other alias fonts.

In addition, Monotype also sells Arial in reduced character sets, such as Arial CE, Arial WGL, Arial Cyrillic, Arial Greek, Arial Hebrew, Arial Thai.

Arial Unicode is a version supporting all characters assigned with Unicode 2.1 code points.

[edit] Arial in other font families

Arial glyphs are also used in fonts developed for non-Latin environments, including Arabic Transparent, BrowalliaUPC, Cordia New, CordiaUPC, Miriam, Miriam Transparent, Monotype Hei, Simplified Arabic.

[edit] Criticism and similar fonts

Arial is held in disregard by some professional typographers and type enthusiasts, for reasons relating to its similarity to other typefaces and the involvement of Microsoft in its development and distribution.[6] It is reinforced by Arial's apparent status as a de facto Helvetica stand-in, but without paying royalties, or credit, to Helvetica. Arial's glyph widths are nearly identical to those of Helvetica,[6][7] rather than Monotype Grotesque, on which Arial is otherwise based, and many people are unable to tell the difference between Helvetica, Arial and other similar fonts. However, there are a number of fonts which are direct copies of Helvetica that different type manufacturers have created, including Triumvirate, Helios, Megaron, and Newton.[6]

In the 8 July 2005 issue of MacUser, Robin Nicholas was asked, before bringing up the subject of Arial, how far he would compromise his artistic principles for money, Nicholas responded that he would never just recreate an existing font, and the only areas where he would take a stand are "those where there would be legal problems; somebody wanting us to make a typeface that's clearly a corruption of somebody else's typeface."[8]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c Allan Haley, Is Arial Dead Yet?, Step Inside Design Magazine, May/June 2007. Accessed 2007-09-24
  2. ^ Monotype Imaging, Type Designer Showcase: Robin Nicholas — Arial. Accessed 2007-09-24
  3. ^ "New features in Windows 3.1". Microsoft. 2006-11-16. Retrieved on 2008-03-08.  “Windows 3.1 includes the new TrueType scalable-font technology…Four TrueType scalable-font families will ship with all copies of Windows 3.1: Arial (alternative to Helvetica), Times New Roman, Courier, and Symbol.”
  4. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated, PostScript Language Reference Supplement, Adobe PostScript 3, Version 3010 and 3011 Product Supplement, Appendix D, 30 August 1999. Accessed 2006-04-29.
  5. ^ Adobe Systems Incorporated, The Adobe PostScript 3 Font Set. Accessed 2006-04-29.
  6. ^ a b c The Scourge of Arial by Mark Simonson. Accessed on 2006-04-29. Note: while Mark Simonson dislikes Arial, this is mostly based on its history and some features he considers "out of place" because they are not the same as in other Grotesque fonts.
  7. ^ How to Spot Arial by Mark Simonson. Explains the differences between Arial, Helvetica, and Monotype Grotesque 215. Accessed on 2006-04-29.
  8. ^ Twenty/20 Macuser article from 8 July 2005

[edit] External links

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