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What connects new Star Wars, old Star Wars, and even Star Trek? This typeface

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The next Star Wars finally has a name — Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Sure, people may beef with the title, but honestly, it could have been titled anything and I'd have been on board. Why? Because Disney and J. J. Abrams set the title in one of my all-time favorite typefaces, ITC Serif Gothic. The most significant film franchise from my childhood has just become inextricably linked to the design crush of my youth. And it’s even a nice nod to the Star Wars history, which used the font in its earliest advertising (see below).

It also doesn't hurt that The Verge logo is based on the same font.

At eleven, the same age I was really growing into my fondness for the Star Wars universe, with the prequels just around the corner, I picked up a book, Pamela F. Service’s Winter of Magic’s Return by Pamela F. Sure, it may be as unfortunately titled as The Force Awakens, but it too, was typeset in ITC Serif Gothic, proving my point: anything looks great in this typeface. Even any random pairing of words — say, something like "the" and "verge".

How influential was this typeface on just my life? Consider that the first chance I got to use it, when someone finally uploaded a copy to the public server at my school, I leapt at it. The heaviest weight wasn’t quite heavy enough, though, so I added even more bulk to ITC Serif Gothic’s bulging curves. It’s… not pretty.

old poster

A poster from my time in the late-2000s at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

I have since successfully used ITC Serif Gothic, and atoned for abusing that server copy by purchasing it for myself. A good sign of ITC Serif Gothic’s longevity is how often it sparkles in new uses, especially considering it was born just around the time disco was getting off the ground.

ITC Serif Gothic was designed by Herb Lubalin and Tony DeSpigna in 1972, based largely on another Lubalin hit, ITC Avant Garde, but utilizing elements of roman and serif faces based only on the geometric architecture of ITC Avant Garde. Both were published through International Typeface Corporation, another Lubalin-owned company, and would become part of the aesthetic DNA of the 1970s, especially in pop culture (like this Eraserhead poster, and the cover for The Thorn Birds, for example). But where ITC Avant Garde is often misused and ultimately invisible due to its ubiquity, ITC Serif Gothic stands out, often set in its heavier weights, holding down the party across over four decades.

serif gothic type specimen

Original cover to ITC Serif Gothic's type specimen, courtesy of Monotype Recorder.

It’s also unavoidable for us to discuss this, because now we here at The Verge have greatly reduced our six degrees of separation from Star Wars. Not for nothing, but if y’all Star Wars folks are reading this, I think Chris Plante would make an adorable Ewok. Just saying.

For more great examples of ITC Serif Gothic, check out Fonts in Use.

Next: Make your own Star Wars: Episode VII title!