Chapter 12: Century Gothic

Posted on October 28, 2019 | Updated on October 31, 2022

From the time prehistoric man carved drawings on cave walls, there have been specific strokes and symbols that convey a particular tone or mood. In the 15th century, moveable type and the printing press were born, and from that point on, people created different typefaces for a variety of reasons and uses. Some typefaces were created for clarity, some for formality and more recently for on-screen use.

Designers created Century Gothic, a geometric sans-serif font, specifically as a digital typeface. People have never used it as a physical typeface. This makes it rather unique out of the more common fonts found in existence today.


In 1991, Monotype Imaging released Century Gothic. It is similar to the Futura font, but has a taller height. Geometric-style sans serif typefaces, which gained popularity in the early part of the 20th century, inspired Century Gothic. The more recent typeface is based on Sol Hess’s Monotype 20th Century drawing, which designers created between 1936 and 1947. Sol Hess made his Monotype 20th Century drawing for headlines or larger displays of text. It works best with small amounts of text, but not as well in large blocks of text. However, people can also use it for content, as long as they make sure they balance the size of the font for an overall strong look that doesn’t overwhelm the page. It’s a wider font, so using it for large blocks of text in a bigger size can be jarring on readers’ eyes.

Mechanics of Century Gothic

Century Gothic has some distinctive characteristics that make it recognizable. First, the lower-case “a” and “g” are both single-story in this font — in other words, similar to the way people learn to write these letters as children. Single-story, as opposed to double-story, is more reminiscent of handwritten text or calligraphy. Two-story letters, however, are more ornate, so we see Century Gothic as a less formal font. The “i” and the “j” have thick, round dots to accent them. The font, overall, has a very tall x-height. The font itself is rather wide-set, since designers created it specifically as a digital typeface. It has a distinct geometric design. At the same time, the weight is not as heavy as some fonts created for on screen. The font has no serifs. Century Gothic was created as an alternative to ITC Avant Garde. For example, if you set up a document in Century Gothic, then switched all the text to ITC Avant Garde, the fonts would take up exactly the same amount of space and the copy would still fit perfectly.

What Does the Font Imply?

Century Gothic is simple, but familiar. As mentioned previously, some of the letters have the same appearance as the letters children first learn to write in school. This gives the font a warm and welcoming feel. It is a somewhat happy and light-feeling font compared to fonts created with heavier strokes. Century Gothic uses less ink than similar typefaces — as much as 30 percent less than Arial. For this reason, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay switched their email and printing typeface to Century Gothic from Arial. One factor they perhaps didn’t consider in this decision was that the font is wider, and thus uses more paper. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay didn’t share if it was cheaper to use more paper and less ink, or if there were any savings at all after figuring the additional paper use into the equation.

Where It’s Commonly Found and Used

Century Gothic is often used on movie posters. It is also the main typeface for headlines for shows such as House and the Ellen Degeneres Show. Because the font has a mix of high x-height and a steady weight, it is easy to read on screen. Most readers can easily read this font on screen,. But a few with eyesight issues may struggle to read the font. It isn’t as heavy as some of the other fonts designed specifically for on-screen usage. Some of the print material for television shows and movies, such as Glee, use the simplicity of Century Gothic to put the focus on the large, short words. Star Trek: Enterprise also uses this font quite a bit. Century Gothic works particular well for these short titles.

What Should It Be Used As

As mentioned before, Century Gothic works well as a headline font. You can use it on posters, flyers and website or blog headings. It meshes well with Garamond, because both are taller fonts made for on-screen use. Other typefaces that work well with Century Gothic include Palatino, Elephant, Book Antiqua and Bookman. On the other hand, avoid using Century Gothic with Arial, Helvetica, Calibri, Verdana and Bell Gothic. The font has an almost feminine nature to it. So, it works well for women’s organizations and home and garden blogs. Century Gothic has been described as a happy typeface that is clean and crisp. Female-owned businesses or businesses that cater to women would be well-served to consider this typeface for company materials, advertisements and particularly for online advertising. Century Gothic may not be as well-known as Arial or Times New Roman, but it can mesh well with other popular fonts. It is a fairly casual and familiar font that can be used on a movie poster, album artwork and even in university materials and correspondence.  

The Font Series Guide: Introduction
Chapter 1: 15 Google Fonts You Should Be Using
Chapter 2: Times New Roman
Chapter 3: Roboto
Chapter 4: Georgia
Chapter 5: Verdana
Chapter 6: Helvetica
Chapter 7: Comic Sans
Chapter 8: Didot
Chapter 9: Arial
Chapter 10: Tahoma
Chapter 11: Garamond
Chapter 12: Century Gothic
Chapter 13: Brody
Chapter 14: Bromello
Chapter 15: Savoy
Chapter 16: Athene
Chapter 17: Calibri
Chapter 18: Proxima Nova
Chapter 19: Anders
Chapter 20: Monthoers

About The Author

Eleanor Hecks is the Editor-in-Chief of Designerly Magazine, an online publication dedicated to providing in-depth content from the design and marketing industries. When she's not designing or writing code, you can find her re-reading the Harry Potter series, burning calories at a local Zumba class, or hanging out with her dogs, Bear and Lucy.

Related Posts