There are obvious tells in almost all of them -- mostly lowercase "s", "c", etc, in which Helvetica is has perfectly level edges and arial is angled.
The only harder ones are some of the all caps examples like TOYOTA.
For uppercase, the tip offs are the following:
* The capital A in Helvetica is narrower (more isoceles and less equilateral)
* The capital G has an extra hatch on the right side (looks like an arrow and not an L)
* The capital R does not have a straight leg in Helvetica
* Conversely, arial chooses a non-straight hatch mark for the Q whereas Helvetica's Q hatch is straight.
This image provides a good overview on the capital (and numeric) differences: http://cdn.ilovetypography.com/img/gqr.gif
In the case of TOYOTA where it seems that kerning might different in two images, the heavier strokes in Helvetica should tip that off.
That said, I did get a degree in graphic design, so I may not be typical when it comes to this.
In this comparison, the capital E's are identical, so perhaps MATTEL used a different weight Helvetica?
This quizz is an excellent training though. I didn't know anything at all about typography prior to taking the test (never bothered to learn the names of the fonts or their shapes), ended up scoring 17/20.
I notice the differences (slanted terminals, narrower "A"s, etc.), but had no clue which was which. Weirdly, I'm super-picky about typefaces, but mostly in a "I like what I like" sense rather than a "I know the precise details about why" sense. I dislike both Helvetica and Arial intensely, and so never bothered to learn much about what made them different. They're both just fonts I don't choose for anything.
I couldn't see any difference between Mattel and Toyota.
Mattel was also the one that tripped me up.
As the GP said, the caps on the S, C, T, etc were usually the giveaways.
The flourish at the bottom right (not sure the correct term) of the R in TARGET gave me at moment's pause. But each of the logos was customized to an extent.
It's funny, because I universally prefer Helvetica over Arial otherwise.
Lowercase Helvetica characters never end on an angle. They are always flat and either parallel on the bottom or the edge of the screen.
Toyota was a pure guess for me.
I guess that anyone who knows anything about typography would answer correctly to all questions.
Clue: I went for bolder font. Also, Helvetica is a bit wider in these logos. After that, I also noticed the clue in C.
All the rest I had immediately, on the very first image there was 50% chance I had it right and I did a lucky guess, from then on I knew Helvitica was horizontal, Arial slanted.
Before this test I considered the differences negligible, without really knowing what the differences are. Now I consider Helvetica much more elegant and incisive.
Lately we've developed this fetish for sites being pixel-perfect across any display.
The web was designed to decouple the way a site was designed from the way it's displayed. To allow it to reflow, and people to use their own designs.
If you really want pixel-perfect layout, why not just use bitmaps and imagemaps ;)
Although, a common way to get them out of their "I know better" state is to point out the time factor and how much extra it will cost them. Suddenly they will worry over browser incompatibilities all day long.
The worse are the people that point out that the fifth paragraph on the third page ends with three words on the final line in the mockup but the website version has four words in Firefox and two words in Chrome. I just want to so tell them to just let the text flow its own way, dude. In the end I tell them in a nice way they're being silly.
Note that I never said that it shouldn't be decoupled, or that people shouldn't use their own designs. But if you want people to see your site as you intended, I'd for sure want them to see it with the exact font I choose, not some close alternative.
I've always taken the view that you throw the text at an engine and let it do the rendering. If it doesn't look right, the engine needs improving. Manual tweaks fall into the realm of premature optimisation, as chances are the content will change faster than the tweaks can be made.
I can see that beautiful typography is nice to have, but apart from automation, I can't see a way to apply it on a mass scale. Crafted typography is the typographic equivalent of assembly language?
The appearance does matter more for display text (logos, headings, etc.), but you're using font-face for those anyway.
Alternatively, @font-face is supported by just about everything at this point, opening up the opportunity to use much better fonts, like open sans
(also, helvetica is a print font. It doesn't work for body copy at the sizes commonly used for screen text.)
On Windows, however, Helvetica isn't (at least from my experience) as nicely hinted, or at least doesn't play quite as well with Microsoft ClearType. And that's if it's installed, which is less likely on Windows. In that case, if your font stack specifies a fallback to Arial, which is ClearType's best friend, you'll probably be fine.
— Terminals at right angles to the stroke. http://c.jon.gd/image/3Q0y2u323j3C . Arial looks particularly sloppy with jaunty terminals. It is possible to have a similar grotesque sans-serif feel with offset terminals (see Univers & Akzidenz Grotesk) but they're a crucial part of what give Helvetica its character.
- The uppercase R. Has a really strong leg compared to Arial's half-assed flaky leg.
But the important part is that there's a difference in feel and theme that's not really measurable and identifiable in direct comparison.
The subtle difference is far more important than trying to identify the tiny details that don't really matter. And in that sense, this game (while fun and interesting) misses the point.
It's like art: you develop more sophisticated tastes as you're exposed to better things. It's hard to say this without sounding snobbish, but if all you've seen is Arial, you'll find Arial familiar and comfortable. But the more time you spend looking at good typography, the more Arial will start to hurt your eyes.
Does this feel different? I can see the slanted Arial terminations but I don't "feel" the different mood.
In the wine world, it is possible to isolate this effect using blind taste tests. In the font world, there seems to be no robust way to show a font expert Helvetica without letting them recognize that it's Helvetica.
This was just something I noticed for the first time while going through.
1. Helvetica has level edges, Arial is angled (as ef4 said). Particularly important were "t", "e" and "a", "S", "G", C".
2a. For capital letters, if there is an "R", the Helvetica one is curved in the bottom right part while Arial uses a straight line.
2b. For a capital "Y", the Arial one has the same length in all directions while the Helvetica one is shorter at the bottom. (Alexx indicated a difference).
2c. The jags/gaps in the capital "M" extend further to the top for Arial. This can be used to figure out MATTEL.
3. Otherwise, the one that looks fatter is Helvetica.
* This test quickly 'clued me in' that a logo should give a "commanding", "authoritative", "brooks no argument" look. Helvetica, yes; Ariel, no: Ariel made some logos look downright self-satirical.
* An email client I use has Ariel as its default font. In that (two-way communication) context, where accidental antagonisms can arise, Ariel seems to "look less antagonistic"
* So this test speaks to me about appropriate fonts for two different contexts, and personal point-of-view.
* Got 20/20, but might not on a 2nd run. I'm only human.
Likewise there's only one Arial font but tens of thousands of girls named Ariel, so odds are your font is going to get spelled Ariel an awful lot by people who think Ariel first as either a human girl or a movie character.
Sorta similar to the 'Objectified' doc that was recommended by HackDesign but I actually liked this one better.
For "Mattel" my choice ended being random.
Toyota was easy enough, as the capital "O" in Helvetica is more oval than round in Arial, and more round than oval in Helvetica.
I'm not a designer, I'm a developer, but I do enjoy typography.
The Os in the Toyota logo have been modified and made more round, though. This is what "TOYOTA" looks like in plain Helvetica: http://myfonts.us/td-RQ1hNh
The Os in the Arial and Helvetica are practically identical.
This question is good for seeing whether people know what they're looking at, but the point of using one font over the other isn't to show you prefer the 'correct' font, but to be invisibly better than other choices in one way or another.
I got 17/20 correct with that method.
I can tell the difference between them, it's obvious when you know what to look for. Is it so much better that it's worth the effort required? Definitely not in my opinion.
I have a special place reserved in Hell for that font.
What I like most about Helvetica is the top of the t is flat rather than sharp and there is less stylizing overall. Arial, for me, breaks the philosophy of stylizing for stylizing sake. Helvetica, IMHO, was already perfect.
This makes me remember the Essay by Adolf Loos' Ornament and Crime (1929) (http://technical-english.wikidot.com/text-1-2). Albeit bordering on racist propaganda contains very valid points on ornamentation being wasteful which I believe was a hallmark of Dieter Rams philosophy, "Good design is as little design as possible" which highly influences Apple's industrial designer Jonathan Ive.
If it was done with novel text, the results would have been different.
After reading tip offs here I got 19/20 (all except Toyota)
On my Retina MacBook Pro this whole test is a blurry mess. I had to bring it over to my non-Retina display to take it. But the differences between Arial and Helvetica pop a lot more on a better display.
I got 19/20. Messed up on "STAPLES" because I got over-confident and started selecting too quickly by the end.
The easiest way to distinguish the two, in my opinion, is that Helvetica uses horizontal cuts to letter strokes. So I should have seen that the capital 'S' in STAPLES had slightly off-axis cuts in my selection. Perhaps what tricked me is that the STAPLES logo itself is off-axis.
Anyway, this difference is quite obvious in general, I'm not sure what the author is on about.
Here are the bugs:
This doesn't seem that hard. Any perceptive person can determine the differences immediately through deduction and use them to differentiate throughout the test.
Suggestion: wrong response page has a small graphic that emphasises a difference between Arial and Helvetica. e.g. the shape of the top part of the lower case r, &c
Then you have a teaching tool...
Took it again and got a 18. In terms of the actual font design, Helvetica always felt more "natural" and "composed," whereas Arial always felt much more focused on pure readability.
Could it be that different fonts will be more aesthetically pleasing for different uses? Even if they're typographically similar??
Arial looks vertically uneven somehow - the tops of the letters of a word seem to form a more solid straight line with Helvetica.
I couldn't tell at the start and so I guessed based on which logos looked best composed, then I noticed the uniqueness particularly in r and t letter forms.
This actually gave me a new respect Helvetica.
Turns out that's an excellent home date movie.