Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Odd uses for the Trek Original Series font

Typography is an important component of written communication, yet sometimes underrated by the public at large. The content of the message is paramount, of course, but the right font can add so much.

Conversely, a poor choice of font can disrupt the intention of the message, either conveying an impression other than intended or worse, laughter and ridicule -- the over-use and misuse of Comic Sans, for example.

Some fonts are iconic. These fonts are so tied to their original or most well-known use that if one of these typefaces is used for another purpose, the effect is jarring. We wonder why it is being used for this purpose, why did someone choose this font and not another.

For me (and I'd assume many others), the typeface used for the titles of the original Star Trek TV show fit in that iconic category. The oblique tilt, the swoop of certain parts of letters, and the futuristic vibe are very strong. There doesn't appear to have been a name given to it at the time, and it wasn't seen elsewhere until years later when an official licensed font pack for PCs was released. Numerous share/freeware imitations have also appeared.

For whatever reason, in the past year I've seen many examples of the Original Series font popping up, particularly in the publishing world. I'm not sure why. I don't believe it has to do with the new movie; perhaps there's a feeling among graphic designers that it no longer holds that iconic status with new media consumers.

Here are a few examples. They just don't seem right to me.