Helvetica Now: Why should we care?

Typography discussions on the Glowforge Community forum have had almost as much energy as kerf adjustment, image alignment, and production delays. this video introducing a redesign of Neue Helvetica speaks to people who often give little or no thought to typeface selection. It actually can make us care about the fonts we choose.

A driving force of the renovation and renewal of Helvetica has been the tremendous explosion of media formats on which text appears. Helvetica was designed at a time before any widespread digitization took place. Since its last face lift as a digital font, typefaces have been asked to do more and more in so many different media.

Most of our discussions about typography have concerned thematic or design appropriateness. Hence all the shade thrown at Papyrus and Comic Sans. But some discussions were very helpful in introducing others to some useful fonts, like Goudy Initialen that works for special cases like a tile with an initial engraved on it.

We haven’t discussed the relative merits of typefaces as they are processed by a laser, either engraved or vector scored/cut. Of course lots of factors enter into this. Materials, especially wood grain and density, sizing and readability are important. LPI makes a difference for the font, as does power and speed.

I don’t really have much to say about this, but that the update for Helvetica does make a difference, especially if you are engraving a small text for and edge lit LED. Since it is a sans serif, the simplicity of the lines makes is less prone to a running together in this use case.

Anyway, just something to think of. I know there are folks here with some great understanding of typefaces and how to use them effectively. There are others here who may have never heard of kerning and just don’t know what the fuss is all about. This video does a good job of explaining why we should care.


I thought Helvetica now was separate from Helvetica Neue? Did I not read that correctly?

Neue Helvetica was the digital redesign of the old Helvetica family. In all my edits trying to do this post during the day, I missed clarifying that distinction. Thanks. I fixed in the above.

This is interesting, thank you. I have learned so much about fonts since starting to be a maker., Considerations for Engraving, font considerations for different sizes, font considerations for scoring, monoline fonts for CNC, the best fonts for trolling graphic artist that take themselves a little too seriously…


I’ll make that my new mission in life. Irritates me almost as much as the “hall monitor” in elementary school.


Why would you do that?


It was an interesting video. I was hoping for a bit of discussion about exactly what details in the font needed changing for the revised font to accomplish those goals of simplicity, elegance, etc. Maybe a before and after. Wider “O”? Thicker lines? That kind of thing.


For additional information on fonts read Just My Type by Simon Garfield, 2010. It’s a nice combination of facts and humor. I learned a lot from it. Also, I like your video.


I am working with a committee that has engaged a publishing company in a major project. Their logo is in Papyrus. I am dead set against this whole enterprise, but when I found out which company was chosen, I gave up all hope.


Not sayin’ anything.


I used it all over the place for the big year-end Egyptian “Archaeological Dig” party for the Garden Club…no complaints at all.

Y’all quit picking on Papyrus. :smile:


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