Farewell, Mike Parker who brought Helvetica to the mainstream but alas not to Microsoft Windows or Office for Windows.
Mike Parker isn’t a household name but the chances are the every household has an example of Helvetica, the font he helped make popular. When he worked for Mergenthaler Linotype Co., Mr Parker added many fonts, including Helvetica, to the Linotype range and therefore made available to designers and printers around the world. While he did not make Helvetica (that kudos goes to Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffmann) he’s rightly called the ‘Godfather’ of Helvetica.
And boy did Helvetica spread around the world. You’ll see it in public signs from Vienna to Chicago and even in Earth orbit as the font on the side of NASA’s Shuttle. It’s a favorite of logo designers so you’ll see it use by McDonald’s, Motorola, Verizon, Lufthansa, 3M and many more.
Helvetica in Microsoft Office
Helvetica isn’t a font normally available to Windows or Microsoft Office users. To get it you’d have to buy a licence from Linotype or another authorized distributor.
If you want to use a ‘Helvetica’ like font in Word or Office, try Arial or ‘Microsoft Sans Serif’. The Windows font ‘Arial’ is Microsoft’s main alternative to Helvetica. There is also ‘Microsoft Sans Serif’ which was formerly called ‘Helv’.
Macintosh users have Helvetica in various forms plus Helvetica Neue.
Arial for Helvetica
Microsoft Office will substitute Arial when Helvetica is the named font in a document. For example, here’s a Word for Mac 2011 document with Helvetica as the font opened in Word 2013 for Windows.
Word is showing Helvetica in the font list because that’s the font setting in the document. But Word for Windows doesn’t normally have access to Helvetica so it substitutes Arial on the display.
Why not embed Helvetica into the document?
An embedded font travels with the document so it can be used on different computers which don’t have that font installed. Nice idea, however as Office-Watch.com has pointed out before, Office for Mac does not support font embedding, which we think is a scandal but few others seem to care about.
What’s the difference between Arial and Helvetica?
To most of us, the differences between Helvetica and Ariel are minor or not noticeable. Wikipedia has a nice image comparing the two; Helvetica in red and Arial in blue. Now we can see a difference!