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Fonts Reconsidered: Blacklisted Font Faces

Font choice is a key part of creating any document. Yes, good content is essential. But the way you communicate text is also an important thing to consider. Over the past few years, certain fonts have acquired a, let’s say “reputation,” for being basically awful. Either they’re overused, poorly made to begin with, or just ugly. But some people still use them, not realizing that they are committing a pretty bad design error. It’s fine to use a font all the time if it’s not distinctive or if it’s well-designed (aka, Times New Roman, Helvetica, Garamond), but unfortunately not everyone puts enough thought into font choices. Here are some of the fonts most hated by typographers, graphic designers, and people who stay on top of this sort of thing.

Oh, Comic Sans. This font is incredibly popular and incredibly bad. It was originally designed to mimic the type used for comic book text, but quickly became used in completely inappropriate situations. Slideshows for a class, business presentations, logos, signs, funeral announcements, memos, emails…I’ve seen its awkwardly whimsical curves all over the place. It looks unprofessional yet is doubtlessly overused. In fact, Comic Sans has become a bit of a meme online. If someone wants to mock a picture or video, they use Comic Sans for the caption. If you want to photoshop a dumb title onto a book or a bad tattoo onto someone’s skin…Comic Sans. Bottom line: don’t use it unironically unless you’re a first grade teacher since (as María has informed me) the letters are easy for young children to read.

This one is practically ubiquitous in situations requiring an “exotic” or “ancient” look. I’ve seen it on invitations, headings on presentations or flyers, logos, invitations, and even movie posters (ahem, Avatar). It would be an ok font, but it’s EVERYWHERE! When a font looks distinctive, you really shouldn’t overuse it. And in Papyrus’ case, you shouldn’t use it at all.

Finally, we have Bradley Hand ITC. I don’t particularly like mock-handwriting fonts to begin with, but that’s just a personal preference. However, this font is blacklisted, if only because it’s so overused (Lucida Handwriting looks worse but isn’t as common, which is why it’s not on this list). Like Comic Sans and Papyrus, Bradley Hand ITC is pretty distinctive. It looks fairly cheerful but it’s easily readable, so people putting together a quick flyer or presentation will reach for it right away. Therefore, you see it pretty often—not as often as Comic Sans, but it does make its way onto invitations, flyers, ads, passive-aggressive notes (“Please clean microwave after use!!!!!”), and *shudder* cutesy pictures on late ’00s MySpace.

Well, that’s enough of my ranting for one blog post. Which fonts do you hate? Do you use Comic Sans, Papyrus, or Bradley Hand ITC? Do you even notice these dreaded fonts? Let me know in the comments!



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