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Old 11-17-2006, 01:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by iamback View Post
So what is it that makes ArialNarrow so horrid?
Mainly, because it was not designed to be a condensed (or other sort of narrow) type.

The reason lies in history: When released by Microsoft, Arial was a knockoff of the set of Helvetica fonts in the early LaserWriter PostScript printers.

The original Helvetica came only in regular widths. Users could have a “condensed” version by selecting a menu item called Helvetica Narrow, but that was not a set of font outlines. Instead it invoked a PostScript routine that reduced the width of the regular characters by 20 percent. Later Adobe/Apple created a set of fonts that mimicked that process, and that is what Monotype/Microsoft copied when it released Arial.

What’s wrong with this? Computers make lousy type designers. The result is a “meatloaf-on-a-toothpick” effect. You can see the difference by comparing Helvetica or Arial Narrow with Helvetica Condensed, which is designed to set more narrowly.

In the attachment: See how the curves are pinched looking in the two lower examples (Helvetica Regular condensed mechanically by 20 percent and Arial Narrow, designed to match).
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