Arial is for Windows, Helvetica is for Mac

After watching the movie Helvetica a few years ago and playing the game Helvetica vs. Arial, I’ve become more aware of the ubiquity of Helvetica and the creep of Arial. In skimming this year’s edition of the NSF grant proposal guide (why yes, I am writing some proposals now), I saw that for the main proposal guidelines, the typeface requirement are:

  • Arial, Courier New, or Palatino Linotype at a font size of 10 points or larger;
  • Times New Roman at a font size of 11 points or larger; or
  • Computer Modern family of fonts at a font size of 11 points or larger.

with a footnote on “Arial” that says “Macintosh users also may use Helvetica and Palatino typefaces.” Quite apart from the discrimination issue, does a PDF identify the OS of its creator? Also, can you imagine reading a proposal in 10 point Courier? Yikes.

Clearly I need to spend less time thinking about this and more time chopping the last half a page…