We love Helvetica Neue for a more extended Helvetica experience. Heck, we even occasionally use Akzidenz Grotesk as a nod to the font O.G.’s. When we got an email from MyFonts about the release of Helvetica Now, we threw our computer out the window and threw our money at the screen. Helvetica Now is Just My Type!
Who Makes This Typeface?
Why we like this font
TLDR: It is as if Helvetica Neue and Helvetica got married, then genetically engineered a font baby. Helvetica Now comes in three families: Text, Display, and Micro. Boss mode.
This font superfamily is stacked. There are 10 stylistic sets, numerators, subscripts, superscripts, tabular, and much more. There are three full families, and you will find our review for each below.
As the name suggests, Text is boss for body copy and smaller blocks of Text. At 14px and the regular weight, it still reads clear and concise if you have good eyesight. Text comes in 8 weights, with italics in each weight. Compared to display, it is broader overall, as good copy specific type should be. Lightweight at 16px is rather sexy. You can use Text at Display sizes – but it will take up a fair amount of horizontal space because of it’s broadness.
Oh Gawd! 46px at the bold weight is drop-dead gorgeous. Compared to the Text family this weight is more compact, and Monotype has set it very narrowly tracked in. That way, you can get super big while staying economical. Also, Helvetica smushed together is the best sandwich ever. There are 9 weights with italics in each. Once the weight gets beyond Extra Bold, things get mad chunky. I have found that using smaller display sizes – 24px – 31px and tracking things out will really yield a visual symphony.
Micro is interesting. When it is big, it looks mad ugly. But when it is small, it is ultra-readable and looks pleasing to the eye. At 12px, regular weight – it is still VERY clear to read. Monotype infused some magic with this family. I pushed things even further and went down to 6px. Guess what, at this micro size I could still read it. On print materials, this will be a stellar family to use small content blocks and free up space. Staying in this micro arena, I found that going bold has a delicate balance of chunk but retained legibility at super small sizes. There are 6 weights with italics in each. When you go above bold, you may need to bump up the scale and track out a bit. I found when going with white type on darker backgrounds, it read a bit better, but that could be my retina tomfoolery.
Helvetica Now excels at keeping the original Helvetica vibe that we all fell in love with, while also introducing modern enhancements. Headlines & fat tracked in words are still gold with Display. Text family aesthetics are exceptional even at smaller modern headline sizes (24px – 40px). Micro is a magic bullet for when your client emails you last-minute content that is a novel and needs to fit in a one-inch area. There is a ton of style alternatives and Open Type features.
These are our opinions of course, but here are some areas I think Helvetica Now may make you semi frown.
Dat lower case f doe! Feels odd. There really is no stylistic alternative like the ‘l’ or other letters. I mean I am really picking this font apart to point this out. I think it is that the bar is so close to the ascender. Or maybe the bar itself has a sort of bow tie ribbon feel when it connects to the stem for the Text family. In the micro family, it looks like hot garbage big, but Micro is not meant for that!
The other quick weakness to pull out is purely subjective for us, but we have never liked Helvetica’s italic. It really ALMOST feels like a faux italic. There really isn’t much character or pizzazz. If you look at the stylistic alternative for the lowercase ‘l,’ the potential for a touch of character is there. Over the years, I try to stay away from italic Helvetica and will continue, even though Helvetica Now is the bee’s knees!
Get Helvetica Now, now! It is easily the best Helvetica typeface out, in our humble opinion. You have the flexibility if you snag the full family to go from Display all the way down to small Micro. The modern take on this Typeface by Monotype is so money, we are so happy overall. Now, go make minimal posters with Helvetica lathered in sizes so huge they are cropped! Let the form sing!