Is using Century Gothic for body text a terrible idea?

I'm designing a book containing a list of interviews, so the body text is made up from questions (in bold), followed by the answers (sometimes one word, sometimes several paragraphs).When I initially typeset a sample chapter, I used Georgia for the chapter titles, and Century Gothic for the body text - but am beginning to worry that this may be difficult to read in large chunks (I'm using 8pt text with 12pt leading; see sample below). I'm sure some readers are cringing at this choice, but many of the sans serif fonts (I've been asked to use sans serif for the body) I tried look quite dense on the page (futura, frutiger, helvetica, gill), and I like the roundness of Century Gothic with Georgia, but obviously what it looks like doesn't matter if nobody can read it!

5 Oct 2009 — 4:15pm

I would honestly stick to something a little easier to read for body text. One issue I could potentially see using Century Gothic would be the similarity between characters like the lowercase "a" and "o". My one concern with using a sans-serif font for body copy in print is readability- its usually easier to read serif set copy rather than sans-serif.

Out of curiosity, which weight of Helvetica did you try? What happens if you play around with a lighter weight (45, maybe?) and track it a little loose, just to keep that open, free feel to the text?

Thanks for your comments. I had a sneaking suspicion it was too hard to read... I only tried regular Helvetica, as this is the only one I have on my laptop, but the lighter weights will probably be available on campus, so I'll give it a go. I guess I was shying away from Helvetica because it seems to divide so many designers - it seems that people love it or hate it.

I considered tracking a more dense font, but wasn't sure whether that was a good solution. Are there any pitfalls to watch out for when tracking fonts?

Making a geometric sans work as body copy is hard; doing it with Century Gothic is a task for the masters. The only time I’ve seen someone pull it off is in vanity publications that aren’t intended to be read to begin with. Try using Museo Sans instead!

I used it once. I thought it came out pretty good.

Yes please try some more weights (lighter) of helvetica, I find the use of Century Gothic here a bit upsetting, hard to read and I just wish it were different, more welcoming.

Thanks for the mention, James.

You can seen Museo Sans used in a book *here* ("click to look inside").

Our college used it for their calendars for several years. Horrible stuff to read at 9 point. Luckily they recently changed to Optima. Much better.

Hi, thanks for all your comments. I think you've confirmed what I already knew but didn't want to admit! And thanks for your suggestions, especially the example of Museo Sans in the book, I'm heading off to campus to try them out right now.

I used Museo Sans 300 and 500 for text on my group's Annual Banquet graphics. The theme was Art Deco - I was thinking of the New Deal era. I too wondered if a geometric could look right for text, but I thought it harmonized with the display fonts well.

The front and back pages of the program:

Auction cards:

The fancy dessert auction was arranged by someone who found my PDFs too difficult to deal with, so she made the description cards herself in MS Word and - you guessed it - Comic Sans.

Honestly never would have thought of Museo Sans for body text- I've always used it in headings! Good idea :)

Why don't you use Avenir ? It works rather well as a body font. Optima might work too.

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