Reflection Questions Helvetica

1. How does a typeface create a mood, feeling or image when communicating a message? Describe a time when you had a particular reaction to something in print, not because of the content, but because of the typeface? Eg., Signage, branding, packaging, magazine etc….

Type utilizes, spacing both negative and positive space, round and smooth edges along with color and letter placing to create mood. In the documentary Helvetica directed by Gary Hustwit it they argue that the typeface helvetica conveys transparency and rationalism. In contrast, a cursive or grunge typeface may be reminiscent of a more humanistic experience. Such type faces would be too expressive for some situations such as a government forms or academic writing.  

To answer this question, fully it is important to consider that one’s experience viewing type is as subjective as it would be viewing a piece of fine art. We all have different life experience and upbringings that affect how we interpret text. That being said bold text may convey a sense of urgency and importance. A cursive typeface may show elegance and luxury – perhaps relaxation and calm.

Letters that are closer to each other may be used induce discomfort or tightness. In contrast, letters that are spaced a comfortable distance apart may be used to induce calm.

2.Think of a typeface/font you most commonly use when working on your computer and why. Which one is it and consider what, when and where you may use that typeface in design.

Often, I will use the serif font Times New Roman. I use it often as I find it is clean and easy to read even at 10pt. There is an elegance to Times New Roman font that I find appealing. It is a serif typeface I would most likely used the body text of a magazine spread or text in a book. Any written material that would be longer than a few paragraphs, I would use the Times New Roman font.  It is clear, uninvasive, and quite popularly used to publish written work.   

3.Who is the type designer that created your most commonly used typeface? What were their most notable contributions to typography/design and were there any cultural influences that impacted their perspective on the design of the typeface?

Times New Roman was developed by Stanley Morison and Victor Lardent in 1931 (Butterick ).  The Times New Roman typeface quickly became popular amongst printers of the day as it was used to print the popular London newspaper Times of London (Butterick). Today it is adopted as the prefered type face of many lawyers, academics and publishers. Morison’s creation stood the test of time. One could argue that Times New Roman  was one of Morison’s and Lardent’s most notable contribution to typography. It would be contemptible to overlook Morison’s distinguished  achievements as an employee of the Times of London for distinguished work in the advertising department (Butterick).

Culturally, Morison was influenced by the antiquated font Plantin and used this as the template for his design (Burgess). The revisions Morison made altering the legibility and space of the font became the Times New Roman (Burgess).

4.After watching the film Helvetica, has the film changed your perspective on how you think about the role of typography in design? How?

After watching Helvetica I have a greater appreciation for the thought and dedication that is placed on type development and the importance of spacing. The emphasis on type as unifying allowed me to consider the importance of choosing a typeface that is clear but not overpowering. It was interesting to hear varying perspectives on the role of Helvetica historically as well as today.

Butterick, Matthew, “A Brief History of Times New Roman” Typography for Lawyers, accessed March 12, 2017<;.

Burgess, William Starling, “Times New Roman,” Introduction to Typography, accessed March 12, 2017 <;.


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