Helvetica was dreamed up as a universal typeface in 1957 and it’s still incredibly popular –you see it on everything from clever T-shirts to NYC subway signs. But there are all sorts of things Helvetica cannot do well: It can be too plain in some contexts. It can require all sorts of chopping and squeezing of its letters when scaled up. And perhaps most importantly, 61 years after Helvetica was invented, we spend much of our day on tiny screens where its cramped characters are nearly illegible.
But, Monotype–the owner of Helvetica–has spent the past two years creating a fix for Helvetica’s shortcomings. The result is called Helvetica Now, and it’s available for licensing, well, now.
Helvetica Now is the product of two dozen type designers, and when you see everything it can do, you’ll see why. First and foremost, Helvetica Now offers three separate “masters” (or three separate Helvetica variations) for various use cases. Its “Micro” version is for small screens. “Display” is for signage. And “Text” is for more standard sizes in written materials. Each of these options will cause the letters to be both drawn and spaced differently.