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Re: Arial vs. Helvetica.

peter@xxxxxxxxxxx composed on 2017-08-02 06:26 (UTC-0700):

> I want to specify a variable pitch font in a wiki. The font should be 
> widely available and acceptable to commonly used browsers.  
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arial explains, "It [Arial] was created 
> to be metrically identical to the popular typeface Helvetica, with all 
> character widths identical, so that a document designed in Helvetica 
> could be displayed and printed correctly without having to pay for a 
> Helvetica license."  That suggests that Arial is a good choice.  
> Conversely, font substitution appears to be handled well in many 
> contexts and licensing might no longer be a concern.

> What is the conclusion.  Should I specify, Arial or Helvetica or 
> something else?

Something else:


For the first Internet decade at least, Arial was the default sans-serif font on
Windows, and Helvetica(Neue) was the default sans-serif on Mac. Arial is a
functional clone of Helvetica, both of which are scalable font types. The
defaults may have since changed, but those two will still be available, and if
the defaults were changed, either by Microsoft or Apple, or /users/ (which has
always been a principle of the personalization of personal computing devices),
the change would have been for the better, meaning good if not excellent choice
for the user's environment. Linux users have often been able to install the
Windows fonts, but those who haven't have nevertheless been supplied with metric
equivalents (e.g. Liberation Sans), so also find their defaults to be suitable.
Licensing issues are only of concern on the user end, unless your documents are
using embedded fonts that are limited by license.

Wiki software tends to differ rather little from styles create by stylists
themselves by including similarly long styles in their various themes.

All that said, too few web stylists style fonts so simply. It's typical to see
font declaration lists too long to fit an 80 character window, over-controlling,
which typically means the optimal font for the stylist, and too commonly
blocking the font that the user or his OS vendor has determined to be optimal.
Additionally, all modern browsers provide stylists support for web fonts
downloaded along with the markup, styles and scripts, instead of being limited
to fonts already installed on the users' systems. An example would be
<link href='http://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Russo+One' rel='stylesheet'
included in the HTML document head and 'russo one' among the document's styles.

It ultimately comes down to how much control you feel is appropriate to impose.
Just remember users can veto everything by disabling styles, or override
particular styles via browser add-ons or CSS customization. In theory, CSS
styles are merely suggestions.
"The wise are known for their understanding, and pleasant
words are persuasive." Proverbs 16:21 (New Living Translation)

 Team OS/2 ** Reg. Linux User #211409 ** a11y rocks!

Felix Miata  ***  http://fm.no-ip.com/