The Arial® typeface is one of the most widely used designs of the last 30 years. Drawn in 1982 by Monotype Imaging designers Robin Nicholas and Patricia Saunders for use in an early IBM® laser printer, Arial has become a staple for textual content. While some believe Arial has its design roots in the Helvetica® typeface, its foundation is actually in the Monotype Grotesque® design, drawn at the turn of the last century.
Although created for IBM, it was Microsoft in 1992 that chose to make Arial part of a suite of system fonts for the Windows® 3.1 operating system. That decision gave the design its most important send-off. Since then, Arial has been used on just about every computer and in every textual application imaginable. In addition to being bundled with Windows operating systems, it’s found on the Apple® Mac OS X® operating systems and is embedded in virtually all PostScript®-based laser printers. While only a few Arial fonts are bundled with operating systems and hardware products, there are a large number of variants in the family available to graphic communicators. More than 28 styles exist, which include a range of rounded and monospaced designs.
Because it is easy to read at large and small sizes and in a variety of applications, Arial has been a staple screen font for decades.
Arial, however, has many uses beyond on-screen applications. It has been a popular choice for advertising, book design and office communication. The availability of many narrow widths also makes the typeface suitable for posters and large print ads. In smaller point sizes, Arial is popular for diagram annotations and is an easy-reading typeface for books. Arial is also used in many logos and informational material, such as booklets, educational aids and instruction manuals.