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Our Most Hated Fonts

There seems to be a lot of disdain for Comic Sans these days. While we all agree on its place at the bottom of the heap for most-admired typeface, even Comic Sans has its place. For the sake of transparency, I used it this year – very, very, very, sparingly.

We thought it would be fun to poll a few designers in our office on what typefaces leave them at a loss. Luckily, not for a loss of words, as each of our designers had a few words to share about their most loathed ligatures.

Steve Harrison hates Peignot

I HATE Peignot. What a completely ugly face. I remember it was used in the credits for the old Mary Tyler Moore show – the one with Ted Knight, Valerie Harper and Ed Asner. What a perfect show – except for the credits and title sequences. Peignot is really an all cap font, so there’s two strikes against it at the get-go. Reading it is like getting an email from someone typed in all caps. IS THERE REALLY A REASON FOR ALL THIS SHOUTING?? So to soften this, you can mix smaller font sizes of the cap letters to stand in as lower case letters. Really? It’s a grab bag of ascenders and descenders in an all-cap font- like the “lower case” letters want to be capital letters when they grow up. And they do, right in the middle of a word. Ugh! Peignot, I HATE you.

“willy-nilly” set in Peignot

The font Peignot - willy-nilly.

Matt Falk says Brush Script is worse than Comic Sans

The Worst Font in the World that is NOT Comic Sans – without a doubt – has to be Brush Script.

If Brush Script were a food, it’d be unsweetened white chocolate. Or maybe candle wax… candle wax with a faint promise of cocoa. No, wait – I have it. It’d be cocoa butter flavored with pencil shavings: somewhat benign and nostalgic (in a slightly creepy way), but ultimately unsatisfying when used as anything other than the butt of a typography joke.

Brush Script was originally designed by Robert E. Smith, and released into the wild by American Type Founders in 1942. In his book “Just My Type,” author Simon Garfield mentions that “if you were ever persuaded by government posters to bathe with a friend or dig for victory, then the persuading was probably done in Brush Script.” I cannot fathom why the public as a whole would be subjected to such a font, especially when compared to the much more clean-cut and graphically appealing nature of Gil Sans (from “Keep Calm and Carry On” fame).  Had the world not been embroiled in war, we would have had the resources and foresight to recognize the threat of Brush Script and stamp it out. However, wartime priorities clearly took precedent, and this abomination was given a foothold to grow from.

While Brush Script is supposed to be a “quaint and consistent type that looked as if it was written by a fluid, carefree human,” Garfield points out that “no one you had ever met actually wrote like that.” In fact, Brush Script is so soft and so bland, that it has lost any trace of humanity in a sea of regular curves and even weighting. As a typeface, Brush Script is akin to a mannequin standing in for a person – sure, it’s a reasonable way to display an outfit in a department store, but a terrible conversationalist in any other circumstance. And don’t even think of cuddling up to Brush Script. Like the mannequin, you’d find this font comes with nothing more than a cold, smooth shoulder.

And its progeny – oh, what Brush Script has done to the world. While our tastes seem to have evolved beyond the original lines of Brush Script, we’re currently awash in a sea of pseudo-handwriting and brush style fonts (each of which can trace a branch of their lineage back to the scurvy Brush Script). Maybe the use of these fonts is an effort to represent humanity that is lost in messaging, or maybe it’s a way to reach people on a level that doesn’t smack of blatant consumption. “Hey, Guys – I’m a handwriting font, so I’m not evil or corporate – you can trust me.” But much like a doorbell that plays a snippet of electronically rendered classical music, Brush Script (and its ilk) are bland to the point of being obnoxious.

People aren’t fooled – there’s not a string quartet sitting in your living room, waiting to play a merry little entrance march to announce the arrival of a dinner guest. And Brush Script isn’t the work of a caring sign-painter or concerned matron giving you a kind-but-necessary reminder in the form of a handwritten little note.

PS. Every opportunity you have to send a handwritten note, using an actual pen and some paper? This is your chance to tell Brush Script to stick it.

“Faux” set in Brush Script

The font Brush Script is Faux

Ed Mehler loathes Blippo BT Black

Just because someone had a straight edge and a compass doesn’t mean they can design a good font. It was reflective of the times, and maybe that says something about the quality of the times too! And yes, I can remember both the times and the font from first hand experience.

“Heavy” set in Blippo BT Black

The font Blippo Black BT is Heavy, Man.

David Kendall’s letter to the estranged Mrs. Eaves

Dear Mrs. Eaves,

The prefix in your name leads me to believe that you are married. Why then are all your characters divorced from one another? The distance in their relationship is obvious. Is it just that you and your significant other are “separated?”

“divorce” set in Mrs. Eaves

Jessica Goldman says Papyrus isn’t all that exotic

Just because a font is different, or unusual doesn’t mean you should use it. The overuse of Papyrus even earned the font it’s own “I HATE PAPYRUS” facebook page.

Note: Grade school students doing a project on ancient Egypt get a pass.

“Ubiquitous” set in Papyrus

The Font Papyrus - Ubiquitous

Steve Hartman discounts Hobo

It’s the first font that comes to mind when I think of a font not to use. Yes, I confess. I’ve used it. BUT, only as one of those irreverent inside designer jokes. But, what barbeque stand or going-out-of-business sale wouldn’t be successful without the use of Hobo – America’s feel good font.

“discount” set in Hobo

The font Hobo - Discount

Andy Pickering disses Mistral

Although I’m not the first to think this, Mistral, like many handwriting typefaces, falls victim to overuse and misuse. For me, it’s indicative of kung fu movie titles, loud 80’s fashion ads and craft stores/coffee shops located in Nostalgiaville, USA.

I understand the draw towards adding a personal touch to a project with a handwriting element. You want to communicate spontaneity and personality, but don’t kid yourself in thinking that something from your font list will make the grade.

If one were to use a handwriting typeface, they should tear themselves from the computer, get out their pen and ink and create their own. It may take a little longer, but the result will be original and most likely better than anything found on the computer.

Now, let’s go buy neon Swatch watches, get some salt-water taffy, and rent a king fu movie. Tubular.

“Schmistral” set in Mistral

The font Mistral - Schmistral

We could go on. Matter of fact, others on the list that our designers shared were Handwritten – Dakota Fajita, Fajita, Caliban, Arial Round, Arial, Times, Bionic, Parish Flash, Anna, Rosewood Standard Regular, Carpenter, Bernhard Fashion, University and, of course, Comic Sans.

There are hundreds of thousands of fonts and typefaces to choose from, each with their own characteristics and personalities. But, that doesn’t mean you can use them all. If there is one little nugget of advice we can give on choosing the perfect font to support your message – imagine the font as a great actor and ask yourself, “Is it James Cagney or Jimmy Stewart, or is it Richard Little doing James Cagney or Jimmy Stewart?” Avoid the font that’s trying to be something it’s not, and go for the classics.

What is your least favorite font?

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  • Jami Dix

    While, I’m pretty sure it’s the font at the beginning of one of my favorite holiday movies – Elf….hands down, I hate curlz.

  • http://www.falkharrison.com Steve Hartman

    Jami, sometimes, they just work. But usually in only one instance.

  • http://melodymeiners.com Melody

    I have to echo the curlz sentiment…it’s like comic sans trying to pass as a legitimate font child.

  • http://rjshay.com rj shay

    hahahahaha! I agree with everything! However, decorative fonts are easy to dismiss because there are a lot of them that are pretty bad. We should be discussing strictly body copy fonts! Decoratively though, I don’t care for Apple Chancery of Desdemona. Ugh!

  • Michelle Foster

    Hilarious article! I hate all those fonts!! But Comic Sans is my absolute least favorite. I’ve deleted it from every computer I’ve ever owned!

  • Jake Simon

    OMG, I hate, hate, hate Copperplate Gothic. If I could sue a font this would be it, but I would lose because every friggin attorney uses it for their cast bronze nameplate outside of their offices and frosted vinyl on their glass doors.

    I just threw up a little thinking about it.

  • Greg

    Every script font ever invented has been overused.

    There should be confirmation dialogs on your computer to go through when choosing fonts like those… “Are you sure you want to (mis)use Comic Sans in this situation?”

    I was laughing at the article and the irony actually… is the leading after the headers a joke or a hilarious twist of fate? …an article that’s complaining about fonts uses a wordpress template that’s so “willy-nilly” in its typography, the header font actually overlaps the content font below it in places.

  • Michelle Good

    I am just relieved that it ok to hate a font.

  • http://www.falkharrison.com Chris Reimer

    Greg, you busted us! Old website here, soon to be replaced… we’ll see how this blog post displays on the new site in just a few weeks!

  • http://www.falkharrison.com Chris Reimer

    Better spacing now!

  • http://www.falkharrison.com/blog/ FalkHarrison

    Let us know what you think. What’s your most hated font?

  • Nick314

    I hate this font..the one that is being typed right now. It’s so small I can’t tell what it is. Helvetica? I’m a copywriter., so I’m simple. For the record, I don’t hate fonts…they are all special in their own written/typed way.

    • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

      @Nick314 I regret inviting you to comment. ahahahahaaa!

      • Nick314

        @RizzoTees That’s just straight up mean, bro. You can go to helvetica for all I care (see…how I used the name of a font for a curse word…yeah, I’m witty)

        • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

          @Nick314 You make funnies for sure.

    • http://www.falkharrison.com/ jonRfalk

      @Nick314 I think you are right … this font does need another look. We need to dig in with livefyre and check out the choices.

  • m_ryan

    So much hate for fonts around the world. Can’t we all just get along?? I really have a strong dislike for IMPACT, Broadway and Bauhaus 93. Might as well use wordart.

    • citylifematt

      @m_ryan I was just going to say Impact. Good call!

  • lynnalpert

    I’m with you, Steve! Every time I see something created with Hobo, it makes me want to vomit. Although Comic Sans and Papyrus are catching up!

    • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

      @lynnalpert Papyrus = fancy wine bar. Enough already, wine bar owners!

      • nthink

        @RizzoTees@lynnalpert Papyrus also = spas/salons. It’s everywhere. Ahhhhh!

  • stlshelley

    Gawd my eyes are burning. You hit all the big ones, but I’ll throw Lucida in there, too.

  • lynnalpert

    I am currently working on a logo and the client decided to suggest the fonts for it. Among the suggestions were Papyrus and Dakota. I ignored the “help”

    • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

      @lynnalpert oh snap

    • CarlynK

      @lynnalpert

    • CarlynK

      I once presented 3 logo designs to my client & he proceeded to ask me to use the font his 11yr old son found on their home computer. That’s the font that he went with for the final design. Ughh.

  • CarlynK

    Mistral is another great 80′s memory. Everyone used it,dropped shadows, & paint splatters. It should rest in peace.

  • Gus Nicklos

    Love the post! My vote is for client requests. Don’t tell your surgeon how to operate! We do this for a living. :)

  • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

    I would like to bring this tweet to everyone’s attention: http://twitter.com/#!/FalkHarrison/status/152486437554626560

  • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

    I would like to bring this tweet to everyone’s attention:

    http://twitter.com/FalkHarrison/status/152486437554626560

  • TaraCallicoatte

    ROSEWOOD!!!!!!!

  • citylifematt

    Any font ever used in any Captcha ever. @RizzoTees

  • citylifematt

    Wait, no one picked Courier? That one hurts my eye in a major way.

    • http://www.falkharrison.com/ RizzoTees

      @citylifematt I don’t mind courier. Comic Sans is the one that infuriates me.