Need Helvetica font- options?

I use a Windows machine so it doesn’t come with Helvetica, and no Ariel isn’t close enough. In fact, none of the Helvetica look-alikes I’ve found are quite close enough; I’m trying to parody a sign that uses Helvetica, and the uppercase “R” is quite distinctive. The official sites want a fortune for it. Any “fair use” ways to type and copy a few lines in Helvetica?

A fortune? I am seeing it on the official Linotype web site for £29.75 (including VAT). I doubt that there is any legal way to get genuine Helvetica for free, but I doubt whether anyone but a professional typographer would notice any difference from Arial (or some other variant) either.

I seem to have Helvetica on my computer, but I do not know where it came from. Presumably it was installed with some program that I have. Also, in the font list for Word it shows up with a little screen (or maybe printer) icon beside it, instead of the normal TT for TrueType. I don’t know what that means. Anyway, the uppercase R does not look very different from the Arial one to me. If they are different, it is subtle.

Moved Cafe Society --> IMHO.

Have you had your vision checked lately? A 3-year-old could tell the difference.

This may be a stupid suggestion, so if it is, I apologise. Please snigger quietly.

Helvetica is my favourite font and we used it for a set of document templates at work. At some point work machines were upgraded from one Windows/Office version to another and Helvetica disappeared from the font drop down list in Word. However if you over typed the font name in the appropriate place it did seem to accept it, and seemed to change the font. Whether it changed it to true Helvetica or not, I’m not at all sure. It’s also been a few years since we did this, so it may have been a specific version of Office or some specific circumstances, or some particular alignment of planets, or hell if I know.

As I’m typing this, it seems to make no sense that it worked, but it did seem to. So, have you tried manually changing the font like this? Might be worth a try.

If you just want a few lines, and for a picture, couldn’t you ask someone to make it and send it to you? How about making a document and embedding fonts in it, could that be used to type other things?

In small sizes at regular or bold weight you are possibly right, but presumably the OP needs a specific cut of the font which, as you point out, is quite reasonable if you only need one weight. No need to buy the entire set.

30 of The Best Alternatives to Helvetica

Try searching for Swiss, which is a copy of Helvetica.

Part of the problem might be programs that helpfully use Arial when Helvetica is indicated.

I’ve often wondered why Microsoft didn’t copy it exactly, BTW. While Truetype files are copyrightable as computer programs, the actual shape of a font is not copyrightable.

You’d think there’d be an exact Helvetica copy out there. I know I’ve seen exact copies of other fonts.

Hi Lumpy. I’ll be happy to set the text for you and send you a PDF, a tiff, jpeg or whatever. Shoot me a PM with the details and contact info.

Really? Because I call BS on that, from this image here I think it’s very difficult to tell the difference: link.

Also, Microsoft Sans Serif is actually closer to Helvetica than Arial…Arial is just much better known so people who haven’t bought Helvetica for a Windows machines often default to Arial as a replacement.

From that example, I think the opposite. The differences are glaring.

Maybe it’s a matter of what you look for. A non-typographer may be blind to what a typographer sees instantly.

Generally I think people make too much fuss over the details of fonts, but your example does not support your contention. The OP specifically mentions needing the correct “R” and the differences between that letter in Arial, Helvetica and Vera are dramatic.

Still, very few people could glance at a page of 11 pt. Arial and 11 pt. Helvetica and tell the difference without seeking out individual characters. (Unlike the way many people could distinguish Gill from Helvetica, or Garamond from Times almost instantly.)

Concur. Arial’s majuscule R is an FBI agent. Helvetica’s not only came to party, it brought booze.

OK, after looking at that I guess the font that is labeled Helvetica in my word processor’s font list is not really Helvetica after all. It just gives me Arial. I don’t know why it lists itself as Helvetica as well as Arial.

So yes, I can see the difference when I pay attention. However, if I may rephrase my point: No one else but a professional typographer (or graphic designer, perhaps) is going to care or is likely to notice. But perhaps Lumpy’s intended audience does consist of professional typographers or graphic designers.

Why can’t you just download Helvetica? Why does it matter that your computer doesn’t have it pre-installed?

If you haven’t found a source for Helvetica yet, one thing you might do is go to a font site and look at the Helvetica sample and change the wording to what you want and increase the size all the way. This will at least get you a GIF of the words you want. Depending on what size you need it at or if you need actual vector output, you might be able to cheat it this way.

Or you could ask someone to typeset the words in Helvetica and convert them to outlines and send them to you so you can place them in your document.

I think he’s asking how to do it without resorting to pirating the font.