Typography within Technical Communication

Typography is a very important aspect of Information design and technical communication. Choosing the correct typeface can be difficult, because the designer or the communicator want their pieces to be both visually appealing, as well as easy to read.  Typography is something that I thoroughly enjoy, which is how I stumbled across a blog titled, Putting Your Best Font Forward. The article I found interesting is called, Everywhere You Look: Helvetica. The author is also a “typophile” who decided to focus on the typeface we all know, Helvetica!

Helvetica is a very popular font, due to its readability and neutrality. It was created for Linotype in 1957. It’s neutrality lead to its popularity. It is most famous for its usage within the following companies’ logos.

  • American Airlines

  • Staples

  • Bloomingdale’s

  • Greyhound

  • Sears

  • Fendi

  • Crate & Barrel

  • Energizer

  • Texaco

Sometimes neutrality, within technical communication is not a good thing.  The author of, Everywhere You Look: Helvetica, stresses to stay clear of this utilitarian font. Neutrality indicates to the reader that the document is boring, and will deter them from reading your document.Technical communication requires easy to read typefaces. When choosing a font it is best to use something that isn’t too condensed or to decorative like, comic sans. Avoid using fonts such as Arial and scripted fonts.

I personally enjoy Helvetica. I think it is beautifully designed, and is very readable. It can be read easily at almost any size. I do agree though with the author, that Helvetica has become a corporate font that may bore the reader. Helvetica screams, neutrality and uniformity.

What’s your opinion on Helvetica?

Do you have a favorite typeface?

The full article can be read here: http://bestfontforward.wordpress.com/2009/12/17/helvetica/

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5 thoughts on “Typography within Technical Communication

  1. I think this post is great because it ties together technical writing and our major. It’s very true that Helvitca is everywhere, but that’s because it’s such a clean, readable font. However, there are many, many, many more font choices that are just as clean and travel as Helvetica, so I do agree that it shouldn’t be the go-to font and a different one should be used.

  2. I think in some ways Helvetica is useful for certain signs but I don’t like how much it is used. It think since its so over used might be why I am not a fan. Their are other fonts and think people think Helvetica is just a safe way to go.

  3. I agree that Helvetica can be over-used at times, but I think this is a result of pressure within the design community for designers not to choose an offensive font. Helvetica is a safe font option that is always accepted for designs. I still like Helvetica and think it is a very appealing typeface, but until designers are willing to take more risks, I think it will continue to be popular.

  4. I agree with the previous comments. Helvetica is over-used, but designers do look for a font that is neutral and easy to read and Helvetica is pushed at you. It is a font that can be used for anything and it can be easily read, big or small. Helvetica won’t stop being overused until designers are asked to do something “different” instead of something safe.

  5. Helvetica is hit or miss for me. It depends on what it is being used for, but it certainly can feel extremely overused in some settings. There are plenty of other good sans-serif fonts to be explored.

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