To Arial or not to Arial…..that is the question….

(or how to choose a good font for CAD & BIM)

So, the new role at Farrells is ticking away and, I have to say, I am enjoying the challenge.

One of the discussion points in the project team I am in is what font to use. And, more importantly, should it be company-specific, or project-specific, or something else or something else, and so on, ad nauseum.

So I took it upon myself to search Google with the search criteria, “Best fonts for use in Revit” and I was blown away by the amount of discussion that goes on about this, and how much of a bone of contention fonts in CAD and BIM actually are.

We have the old school aficionados who still love the architectural style fonts. We have the young turks who want to utilise the up-to-date TrueType fonts and we have the “if it works, don’t fix it” crew who think that RomanS (an old AutoCAD SHX shape code font) is the way to go.

So, what EXACTLY is the best way to go with fonts? Which one do you use? Which one do you standardise on? Well, the answer is this. YOU decide. You decide on which one you want. You then have to implement it in to your CAD and BIM installed software. Now, Revit ships with Arial as the default font, and I have to say that, I find Arial perfectly adequate for my needs. The problem with Revit, is that if you do want to change the font, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, has to be updated. Your families, hosted families, component families and system families need to be updated.

Then, there is the decision on what TYPE of font to use. Typically, you SHOULD use a TrueType (TT) font. These are the fonts that tend to be in your Windows installation, unless any bespoke TrueType fonts have been created and this is probably the most important decision as Revit supports ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) and most TrueType fonts are ANSI fonts.

So why should you use a TrueType font that is ANSI supported? Easy. All ANSI fonts have a specific Character Map that allows for the use of symbols. How many of you need a copyright symbol on your designs? Did you know that if you hold down Alt+0169, you automatically get the copyright symbol in your current TrueType (ANSI) font? Older style fonts such as RomanS (the old SHX shape code font in AutoCAD) do not support these ANSI symbols, so to get a copyright symbol for RomanS, the quick fix is to draw a circle around a capital C. Crazy, huh? Especially when you can use a TrueType font and have the copyright symbol as part of the Character Map.

So, in conclusion, font choice is in the eye of the beholder, but you MUST make your font decision wisely. Personally, I would always look forward and try to future-proof any of my standard CAD and BIM templates by sticking with regular, well-known, TrueType (ANSI) fonts such as Arial, Calibri and perhaps Verdana. These fonts are well-known but, more importantly, are found just about everywhere on computers, so you will never have a missing bespoke font issue. We all know that AutoCAD substitutes the SIMPLEX.SHX font if it cannot find the font used on a drawing, which can really make a drawing look unattractive, AND, unprofessional.

Stick with well-known TrueType (ANSI) fonts and you won’t go far wrong…..so I WOULD Arial rather than not Arial, as the title suggests….

Steve Stafford’s blog about this is also quite informative, so maybe check it out here: –

http://revitoped.blogspot.co.uk/2005/09/are-you-special-character.html

Happy CADD’ing and BIM’ing!

SCB

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