When Neue Haas Grotesk was originally designed for hand-set letterpress type, its design was adjusted for each point size, optimizing the spacing, proportions, weight, and other details for the best results. Digital versions of Helvetica have abandoned such refinements for a one-size-fits-all solution, resulting in problems at large and small sizes. The original size-conscious design approach was restored for the digital Neue Haas Grotesk by making two “optical sizes” – one for display and one for text.
The Text styles bring back improvements for small sizes, including ink traps (to prevent M and W from clogging) and a taller x-height. The Display styles restore Neue Haas Grotesk’s characteristically tight spacing and slight weight adjustment for larger sizes.
The Helvetica obliques that come installed on every Mac today were generated mechanically by skewing regular upright forms 12°. Neue Haas Grotesk’s obliques have been properly corrected to have smoother curves, even stroke weights, and overall visual harmony.
A number of alternate forms were offered by request for the original Neue Haas Grotesk, including a straight-legged R and a modernist cedilla. These variants, which went missing in digital Helvetica, have been reintroduced in the digital Neue Haas Grotesk. The new Display styles also include stylistic alternates for the lowercase a, offering variants with or without a curved tail.
Case-sensitive numerals and punctuation
When all-caps styling is applied, numerals and punctuation marks will be replaced with variants that align better with the capital letters.
Helvetica as it exists in digital format retains limitations from the days of photo-typesetting, where the width of each glyph had to conform to an 18-unit system. Its Oblique glyphs also match their Regular counterparts exactly in width, forcing compromises for spacing and proportions.
Returning to the original design approach, digital Neue Haas Grotesk uses the best width possible for each glyph without being subjected to such coarse and unnecessary limitations.
Neue Haas Grotesk Display 55 Roman
Helvetica Oblique (the same widths as Helvetica Regular, above)
Neue Haas Grotesk Display 56 Italic
The text styles of Neue Haas Grotesk come equipped with a set of tabular numerals and related symbols, all with matching widths to ensure proper alignment when typesetting columns of numerical data. The widths of tabular figures also match between weights.
Fractions, superiors, and inferiors
Neue Haas Grotesk includes features for numeric typography, including proper fractions, separate numerators and denominators, superscript, scientific inferiors, and ordinals.
Extended character set
With language support for Afrikaans, Basque, Breton, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Gaelic (Irish, Scots), German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Irish, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Saami (Southern), Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swahili, Swedish, Turkish.