Century Gothic

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Century Gothic
Category Sans-serif
Classification Geometric
Foundry Monotype
Date created 1991
Design based on Twentieth Century

Century Gothic is a geometric sans-serif typeface released by Monotype Imaging in 1991. It is strongly influenced by the font Futura, though with a higher x-height, and its design history also derives from two separate typefaces intended as Futura competitors. It is a digital typeface that has never been made into actual foundry type.


While many geometric sans-serif typefaces have been released to compete with the popular typeface Futura, Century Gothic is perhaps unique in its origin: it redraws one to match the design proportions of a second. Distinctive, Futura-derived features of Century Gothic are its single-storey lowercase a and g. However, it has a much higher x-height (height of lowercase letters), an effect which promotes readability especially at small print sizes, and which was particularly popular in the 1970s for general-purpose typefaces, making it less similar to Futura than many other knockoff typefaces of the period.

Its design starts from Sol Hess's Twentieth Century, which was drawn between 1937 and 1947 for the Lanston Monotype Company. Century Gothic was then redrawn to be metrically identical to the popular Avant Garde Gothic, designed by Herb Lubalin, and released by the International Typeface Corporation (ITC) in 1970.

Century Gothic is similar to ITC Avant Garde in its pure geometry, and does not possess the subtle variation in stroke width found in either Futura or Twentieth Century. However, it differs from ITC Avant Garde in that Century Gothic does not have a descender on lowercase u (making it appear like a Greek upsilon υ), whereas Avant Garde does. Century Gothic also has larger, rounder tittles on the letters i and j, whereas Avant Garde keeps the tittles square and the same width as the letter strokes. Most notably, it lacks the extreme stylistic alternates of Avant Garde, such as highly slanted letters designed to fit together closely in kerning.

Century Gothic is quite a light typeface, especially in default weight. While its structure is similar to Futura, its regular style is between Futura's book and light weights. Its bold weight resembles Futura's medium style more than its bold style.

Century Gothic was created based on Twentieth Century to be metrically identical to Avant Garde Gothic, so a document created in one can be displayed in the other with no change to copyfit. This allows it to substitute for Avant Garde in documents, an important feature since Avant Garde is a standard font in some forms of the PostScript digital printing standard, and so offering Century Gothic allowed companies to avoid buying an ITC Avant Garde license.

Much like Arial and Book Antiqua, Century Gothic was licensed to Microsoft by Monotype as a replacement for another font, in this case ITC Avant Garde. It was bundled with Microsoft Office 4.3 in 1994 and subsequently provided with with Plus! 95, Windows 98, Microsoft Works, and various versions of Microsoft Office up to 2010.[1]

Printer ink usage[edit]

According to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, Century Gothic uses much less ink than other, similar sans-serif typefaces. It was found that Century Gothic uses about 30% less ink than Arial. In order to save money that would be spent on printer ink for other typefaces, the university reportedly switched their default e-mail and printing typeface from Arial to Century Gothic.[2] However, the typeface has also been found to use more paper—due to its wider letters—meaning that the savings on ink are offset by an increase in paper costs.[3] Therefore, when using paper, margins may be adjusted for compensation.

Along with the serif typeface Garamond, Century Gothic is one of the two typefaces that PrintWise, an initiative of the U.S. government's General Services Administration, recommends U.S. government workers use for printed documents.[4][5]

Selected usages[edit]


  1. ^ "Century Gothic - Version 2.35". Microsoft. 
  2. ^ "Wis. college says new e-mail typeface will save money". Archived from the original on April 6, 2010. 
  3. ^ Ramde, Dinesh (April 7, 2010). "Century Gothic a font of wisdom". Twincities.com. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  4. ^ "PrintWise". Strategic Sourcing. General Services Administration. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  5. ^ Stix, Madeleine (March 28, 2014). Teen to gov't: change your typeface, save millions. CNN via KOCO-TV. Retrieved March 28, 2014.