On Web Typography

Nick Sherman gave us a great analogy to remember the distinction: a typeface is to a font as a song is to an mp3.

On Web Typography from A book Apart is one of the most anticipated books in this field.
Typography is what makes or breaks a great design. Step up your game by learning from Jason about how to evaluate typefaces, consider technical constraints, create flexible typographic systems, and put together your own collection of favorite faces.

This book will definitely help you be more bold with your font choices. You will have the confidence to go beyond the safe choice.

What are the visual attributes that make Helvetica Helvetica ?
Let’s take a closer look:

  • Helvetica has very little stroke contrast; the lines are basically the same weight.
  • It has a generous x-height.
  • The letters are based on simple geometric forms.
  • The apertures, or openings inside the letters, are nearly closed. Helvetica hugs that space tightly.
  • The terminals, or ends of strokes, are right angles.


From these attributes, we can deduce a few things: Helvetica is clear and geometric, but not always legible. Since the letterforms carry so little variation, it can be a easy to confuse some letterforms for others.

Staunch devotees of Helvetica may decry any criticism of the typeface. Some people see it as the ultimate typeface for design, because it’s basically a blank slate. They think you can throw anything at Helvetica and it will look just fine, because helvetica brings little baggage and very few connotations. […] To me Helvetica has become a generic default. People use it as a safe choice rather than face the fear of making a bad choice.