These are six fonts I have decided to remove from my computer because I think they can be easily replaced by more modern types, or they’re too overused to be involved in my design work. Either way, these are the more notorious ones. No doubt there exist some absolutely idiotic and ugly fonts too. For now, these are the ones I’m sure you’ve heard of before. I’ll also suggest some possible alternatives.
As a graphic designer, I have over 4,500 carefully selected and tweaked fonts in my windows fonts folder. This is so that they are always available in all the various software and programs I use to design and edit. Fonts and typography are one of THE most important aspects of any graphic design, logo, branding or web design work. I generally begin with the font as the first stepping-stone to any new piece of design work. However, there are some culprits which I think have been over-used, abused and are just not worthy of having a coveted place in my windows Fonts folder anymore:
1. Comic SansTop of the list, and it may come as no surprise, but Comic Sans is THE font everyone loves to hate. It was created in 1994 for Microsoft, by Vincent Connare. It’s primary use was for comic-books and children’s graphic design. It’s casual and informal, therefore, it’s use is limited to very small instances. It has no place in modern, contemporary and corporate graphic design, which is why it’s use to convey such an image is a prime factor amongst design professionals for hating it.
Over the last sixteen years, it has been mis-used in everything from restaurant signage, corporate documents and even warning signs! Moreso, in memos, documents, newsletters and emails which is supposed to look professional, yet end up looking completely the opposite. I would say anyone who uses this font in anything but a comic-book, its initial intended use, is an amateur, at the least.
It’s use instantly changes the mood of a document or design from ‘serious/formal’ to a more light-hearted and ‘silly’ mood. Clueless office execs have been using this font to ‘tone down’ their spontaneous A4-sized warning messages for years. Probably to appear more ‘whimsical’ and ‘fun’. Pffft! To me, it just shouts ‘Don’t take me seriously, please!’.
There’s even a campaign, started in 1999, called ‘Ban Comic Sans’. It was started in USA by two graphic designers called Dave and Holly Combs. It was a reaction to the widespread disgruntlement amongst design professionals regarding the use of the font. Eleven years on, and with further notoriety, their website is still going strong. You can see their website here.
Helvetica – for formal / serious messages
Courier Sans – for a direct replacement in children’s design and comic books
2. PapyrusPapyrus was originally designed by Chris Costello. Again, like Vincent Connare, he probably regrets it(!) It’s just such a gimmicky and over-used typeface that I’m sure you recognise it without even knowing it’s name. It’s been over-used by amateur hobbyists and first-year graphic design students to convey old, exotic, egyptian and fantastical perceptions. Unfortunately, it’s over use has seen it be included in everything from shampoo bottles to restaurant menus.
Just recently, James Cameron’s blockbuster movie ‘Avatar’ used the Papyrus font, or a very close variation of it, to display subtitles spoken by the Na’vi, the alien protagonists of the film. Just one question, James. Why? With a multi-million dollar budget, cutting-edge technology and amazing 3D effects, why did you have to go and spoil it all by using a font that has come free with PCs since the early 90s?
Again, as Comic Sans above, there is a campaign to highlight the dire overuse of this font. PapyrusWatch.com is an online petition to showcase and document the overuse of this font in many installations such as print, graphics and web.
Kigali – to keep the exotic and fantasy look
Plato – very similar looking but less detailing
3. AlgerianAlgerian was created in 1988 to embellish “any work which suggests the Victorian era”. I think that was slightly over-ambitious(!) Since then, most amateur design-work which may have the slightest relevance to Egypt or the Egyptian era has been adorned by this ugly typeface. Maybe it should have been called ‘Egypt’, instead? It’s very distinguishable because of the indents and depth characteristics of the font. Unfortunately, this also makes it boring rarely gets that ‘second glance’.
I suppose it could be OK in some instances such as work depicting the Victorian and pre-industrial-revolution eras, but the fact that it is everywhere doesn’t say much about your creativity. A favourite with sign-makers, it’s usually seen in bigger sizes and in shop-windows. I’ve seen a local barber in Lancashire who’s window price-list has been created completely in Algerian. To protect the barber from a severe backlash, I won’t include a picture in this post.
Tangiers – same effect but without the blocks and indents that Algerian is known for
Albania – similar to Algerian but not identical
4. ArialBack in High School and College, everyone who used Arial instead of the default Times New Roman was considered a geek or a show-off. It was just more elegant and easier to read than Times. Also, the fact that Microsoft bundled it with everything didn’t help it’s exclusivity(!) However, this also meant that it’s overuse has made most of us become ‘blind’ to Arial. The reason being it is used everywhere and especially for long paragraphs of text in business documents and reports.
Recently, it has been replaced by Helvetica as the standard choice for graphic designers and design professionals. Even this transition is well known amongst the profession. For these reasons, I think my use of Arial will be very rare, also.
Helvetica – for formal or design work
Futura – great replacement in design for print
5. Cooper BlackSimilar to Comic Sans for it’s ‘informal’ and ‘fun’ appearance, Cooper Black has been overused on signage and large format graphics ever since it was designed by Oswald Cooper in 1921. It’s hey-day was in the 1970s when it was used for a lot of applications such as posters, signage and even product packaging. However, just recently, it’s making a bit of a comeback in regards to giving a design a ‘retro’ look. Hmm, back to the drawing board, I say.
I think it’s prime use today should be on greetings cards and party invites. Certainly not in a formal application. You just can’t take anything serious if it’s adorned with this font. I can just imagine it on balloons and posters promoting the village market, designed by the village postmaster on Microsoft Publisher(!) I’m sure you get my drift.
Adera SSK – more consistently rounded ‘bubble’ type letters
AdLib – squared letters instead of curved
6. Brushscript MTThere’s an age-old effect that a lot of people try to achieve which is the ‘hand-written’ look which is ‘a font on a computer that looks like someone’s wrote it’ effect. I have to say, I’m guilty of this little concept but I only use it moderately(!) Therefore, some fonts such as Lucida Handwriting have become the favourite for this use. However, my hatred for Brushscript MT stems a little further too.
You see, why do a lot of amateurs and hobbyists use this font to convey an ‘art’, ‘artist’, ‘artistic’ kind of message? Is it because of the name of the font which has the word ‘brush’ in it that people tend to sub-consciously lean towards this font? Or is it because they think it looks like the handwriting of an artist done using a paintbrush? Hmm, either way, it’s instantly recognisable as ‘that font’ so it’s going. There. Gone.
Vitrina – gives the same feeling with a little more ‘flair’
Pooper Black – same ‘brush’ effect but more contemporary
Bello – cleaner and more readable
Other Fonts That May Get ‘The Chop’
The above are my top six fonts which will definately have no place in my collection anymore. There’s a few more which managed to escape my wrath by a whisker. These are Curlz MT, Lucida Handwriting and also Copperplate Gothic. In my opinion, graphic design is all about being creative and original. Therefore, using typefaces which people have seen ‘used and abused’ doesn’t really help the originality.
I’m not the world’s greatest expert on typography, but it’s something I take a deep interest in. Let me know what your thoughts are or if there’s any fonts you think I missed. What’s your most-hated font? Leave a comment and let me know.