Philosophy, Productivity

Century Gothic, the new Helvetica!!

Fonts copyI’ve been on a quest for nearly a year or so to change the opinions of many to change their default font to Century Gothic. I am not sure what the appeal of this simple font is to me but, prefer it to any other font in the library. The smooth curves of the letters and the simple straight forward design of each downstroke is appealing to me in a minimalist way. I believe the no-nonsense way the letters are displayed, the minimalist, no frills purpose each letter exudes when put to page (or screen) gives this font a characteristic that stands apart from it’s brethren and thus my appeal.

I first came upon the font only a couple of years ago when putting together a presentation for work. The company has the standard font of Arial Black, ugh. Not putting it down or anything but, Arial Black (though simple in its own right) is just bulky and seems, well bloated. I was not a fan of the script I was seeing on the slides I was creating for presentation, so I decided to play around a bit and began my quest for the better font.>

I had read about Steve Job’s obsession with fonts, which began in a college calligraphy class he had sat in on. This passion bled through to the fonts of the Mac and later onto all of Apple’s devices, much to my pleasure. Steve broke the boundaries of an industry steeped in stuffiness and “tradition”. He entered a world of the white shirt, blue tie arena with a pair of ragged jeans, t-shirt and well for the most part…that was it. Shoes were option if not neglected and well ties were not even a concept…though that changed once Apple gained notoriety and publicity but, that is another story.

Steve’s passion for perfection broke the molds of the industry. Helvetica, the most popular font at the time and most widely used was a saturation in the market. It was so widely used that a change was immediately seen. That change led to the realization that perhaps doing things as they’ve always been done need not apply. I believe Apple became the computer for the artistic partially in part because Steve Jobs refused to allow Apple to become ordinary. Apple began as a unique company and has remained so mainly in part because of Steve Jobs’ guidance.

Apple has gone so far as to even creat their own fonts for their products specifically for the reasons I was looking at Arial Black with disdain and irreverence. There was something so ordinary and plain about the font that I yearned for change. When I would write a paragraph in the font Arial Black I would often times find myself having to re-read certain sections of the text because the letters would often blend together and become blurs. Everything would become a fuzzy black streak across the page. I don’t have this problem with Century Gothic. The kerning as it is called (the space between letters) is too small compared to the width of the letters themselves and thus causes me, who speed reads, to blur the words.

Century Gothic does not enable this issue. The width of the letters in conjunction with the kerning provides a smooth flow across the page. I was quite turned on to Century Gothic after I saw it on the big screen during my presentation and a comment afterwards was made in private regarding my font choice. The facility manager came up to me to point out that he had noticed the change in font and that he’d been looking at the same font for the past twenty years and the change was nice. It had given the presentation an upbeat appearance and added youth to the presentation.

That alone was not enough to seal my commitment to the font though. It was after a conversation with my wife that bound us together, for better or worse. We were coming home from a wrestling match one late Saturday afternoon…(sidenote: we have a two wrestlers in the house a 9 & 8 year old and much of November through March is spent dedicated to the sport…our Saturday’s are spent traveling to matches & tournaments and so we usually have a good bit of time to talk about weird stuff like font choices…back to our regularly scheduled program)…and got on the subject of presentations.

My wife was trained in high school to give presentations and had gone so far as to regularly given presentations of various subjects to school and government officials at the youthful age of 17 so she was quite aware of everything that went into preparing a presentation. Though rarely did she use something like PowerPoint she is quite knowledgeable in font choices. So, I was talking at great length about changing the corporate font to Century Gothic and he face lit up. Not understanding this I further questioned her to find out that for quite some time she too had been using the font in her everyday job. She found the font easier to read and determined it a better font. That was the moment I knew forever more, Century Gothic was my font.

Thus far I have spread my passion for this font further into the company I work for with hopes to one day change the standard Arial Black to Century Gothic with the marketing department and guidelines. The font is a gives a good contrast to the page allowing just enough white space to show while at the same time enabling a person to read quickly the text provided. This is my plea to the world to give Century Gothic a try and let it into your daily writing.