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#lang pollen
title-block{topic{Helvetica & Arial alternatives}
short-rule{Neutral need not mean dull}}
Neue Haas Grotesk
Criticizing Helvetica is one of the favorite pastimes of typographers: Its bland. Its overused. Its inapt for most projects. All true statements.
Yet they sort of miss the point. Its like criticizing em{Star Wars} because the visual effects are unrealistic. Or because the dialogue is wooden. Or because the plot is pinched from em{link[""]{The Hidden Fortress.}} All true statements. But so what? Its still em{Star Wars}. And like em{Star Wars}, Helvetica will be with us for the foreseeable future.
Should you use Helvetica? Look, I like Helvetica. Though mostly in the rear-view mirror. Today, we have better options. For Helvetica diehards, there is xref{Neue Haas Grotesk}, a lovely revival of the original Helvetica design. Others can try a font that's neutral without being dull, like my own ◊xref{Concourse}, or the excellent new ◊xref{Atlas}. Even good old ◊xref{Frutiger} would be an improvement.
And don't worry  no matter which alternative you choose, Helvetica will still be with us.
As I mentioned in xref{system fonts}, Arial was designed as a clone of Helvetica. Helvetica has earned its place in typographic history honestly. But Arial, only by Microsoft imposing it upon us for 20+ years as the main user-interface font in Windows. That's the only reason you've heard of it. That's the only reason you might consider using it. That's a terrible reason. I try to keep the litmus tests to a minimum, but this must be one: you cannot create good typography with Arial.