Best font for keypad legend?


I'm currently designing a calculator keypad overlay and was wondering what font looks best for keypad legends? (and why)
The text will be quite small, about 1.5mm in height, if that makes a difference.

I can of course simply pick one I like, but just wondering if there is a type commonly used, and the reasons behind it.



I'm currently designing a calculator keypad overlay and was wondering what font looks best for keypad legends? (and why)

As a rule, small inscriptions are more readable if set in a sans-serif font -- serifs would add too much clutter. The "best" font is, readability aside, often a matter of designer's taste and the message meant to come across. E.g., the HP-35s labels are set in Futura, a really beautiful geometric sans-serif font which was hugely popular in the '60s, which is probably a subtle part of the calculator's "retro" styling.

Practically speaking: use a sans-serif font. Futura may seem too "retro", various Gothic (Franklin Gothic, News Gothic) typefaces are probably a better fit.



After all, ARIAL seems suitable for most applications. Remember it is just a minimal modification of HELVETICA (AFAIK, only to avoid paying license fees - so much about fair trade in this direction), so the original will do it, too.

To my experience, ARIAL UNICODE will allow you almost everything you may wish, including Greek, Math symbols and arrows, and even x-hat (for FCSTX)!

HTH, Walter


ARIAL (...) is just a minimal modification of HELVETICA

Some additional information:

The Scourge of Arial

How to Spot Arial

Arial or Helvetica?


Thanks, Thomas! I've read that once before, but didn't remember the link anymore.


Then you might be interested in the documentary as well.

Just recently Helvetica celebrated its
50th birthday.

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