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America's Most Fonted: The 7 Worst Fonts

Newfonted

Ugly fonts, cutesy fonts, unreadable fonts, bad fonts . . . they have terrorized us for far too long, infiltrating our homes via e-mail, IM, and low-rent ValPak ads. Here, LMNOP presents the seven worst fonts--and the people who use them.

1. Comic Sans MS
Comicsans_1 This is indeed the AOL of fonts; the very accessibility that made it popular and novel in the 1990s became its downfall.  These days, just like an e-mail from an "@ aol.com" address has a distinct lack of credibility, an e-mail written in this font makes the sender seem ridiculous and out of touch. 
Common abusers: Clueless execs who think it makes their e-mail signature seem fun (because nothing bridges the six-figure salary gap between boss and worker bee like a good typeface); kids who identify with its kiddie-ness and thus apply it to their IMs, e-mails, and even school papers; homemade advertisements for DAYCARE PROVIDER'S or PARTY PLANNER'S (Comic Sans people tend to be apostrophe abusers as well)
Probable famous user: Elizabeth Hasselbeck

2. Bradley Hand ITC
Bradleyhand Who is Bradley, and why hath his hand wrought such abuse?  This is one of many script fonts that are supposed to approximate a cursive-y, handwritten look and have lost their charm after years of abuse at the hands of adolescent females.
Common abusers: Sorority girls.  Sorry to any sensible sisters out there who know how to use fonts properly, but you have to admit that Bradley Hand ITC makes its way into far too many college girls' IM profiles, and a good chunk of them are of the Greek persuasion.  In fact, if I had a dollar for every time I have seen a Dave Matthews/John Mayer lyric wistfully inserted into a profile (just below the "Alpha Delta Whatever, love my big," etc., and above the cut-and-pasted Windings heart/flower offset in pink), I would have me some serious dollars.
Probable famous user: Lauren Conrad from the O.C.
See also: Lucida Handwriting

3. Curlz MT
Curlz Curlz MT picks up where Comic Sans left off in terms of forced casualness and raises you a big sack of illegibility.  Even before this font was so totally overused, it was really only good in small doses.  Anyone who uses this font today for e-mail or IM is just totally nuts, because you are basically saying that the actual content and readability of your e-mail is secondary to the real message you want to get across, i.e., "LOOK AT ME!  AREN'T I WHIMSICAL?  DON'T YOU LOVE HOW EVEN A BORING E-MAIL ABOUT CARPOOLING TO SOCCER PRACTICE CAN BE MADE FUN AND FANCIFUL WHEN YOU PUT CURLY SERIFS ON THE WORDS?"  Curlz MT is not a font; it's a cry for help.
Common abusers: Middle-aged ex-cheerleaders trying to hold on to the magic of the good old days; women who have woken up at the age of 40 and realized they never did the fun things they wanted to do
Probable famous user: Britney Spears
See also: Gigi

4. Papyrus
Papyruus Papyrus is all over the place; I've seen it in the IM profiles of many kinds of people, usually guys.  I think the goal with Papyrus is to look kind of scholarly, but let's be honest: you're not using AIM to network with other Nobel winners. 
Common abusers: College-aged guys who want a font that's not boring but also not, you know, all gay and cursive and shit.
Probable famous user: Brad Pitt

5. Vivaldi
Vivaldi Why do people get so carried away with fonts that mimic real handwriting? It drives me insane when people use really heavy script fonts to add a "personal touch" to their e-mail signatures--like, "Look!  It's like I really signed it!  Even though it's on a computer!"  Hey, wow.  You're pretty clever. 
Common abusers: Old people; people who think they are classy.
Probable famous user: Martha Stewart
See also: French Script MT

6. Kristen ITC
Kristenitc This is another "fun" font like Comic Sans or Curlz, but it of course has its own unique twist on things.  Kristen ITC fans are usually elementary school teachers, childcare professionals, and other people with kid-centric jobs.  These people love to employ quotes like, "We don't stop playing because we grow old--we grow old because we stop playing," and they really like to use a font that serves as a constant reminder that THEY HAVE NOT STOPPED PLAYING, DAMMIT!  DON'T YOU SEE HOW PLAYFUL THESE LETTERS LOOK?  YOU ARE TALKING TO SOMEONE WHO IS YOUNG INSIDE!
Common abusers: The same people who buy adult-sized jean jumpers
Probable famous user: Jessica Simpson

7. Viner Hand ITC
Vinerhand Don't ask me why, but  Viner Hand seems to have become the go-to font for angsty pre-teens and would-be goths.  Well, I hate to be the one to break it to the Linkin Park fan contingent, but calligraphy is to angst what scones are to rave parties. 
Common abusers: Eighth graders writing poems about how nobody understands them
Probable famous user: Fred Durst

Any others you want to add to the list?

UPDATE 10/12: Many thanks to the commenter who pointed out that I had mixed up "Bradley Hand" and "Viner Hand" in my America's Most Fonted graphic.  It has now been fixed to showcase the appropriate ugly 'Hand' font.

Comments

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connectionfailure

I am surprised to see http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/fonderieolive/choc/>Choc isn't there (Bitstream called it Staccato 555)
Nothing says "I have no class" more than using Choc, say, in your shop window or on menus.
So if overuse is the crime, then I wish to vote http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/bitstream/ad-lib/>Ad Lib.
This reasonably well-designed font is used every time a product manager wishes to appeal to children. Last one is http://www.myfonts.com/fonts/linotype/ondine/>Ondine
if you want to say "Indian" or "Turkish", use this!

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Sebhelyesfarku

All who defended these crap fonts are fuckin retards.

Pinkstar

I think Times New Roman is the worst font ever... :/

Sami Rae

I had to do a poster for a play, so I put the important information in Helvetica - good, readable font.

Then the people whom the poster was for changed EVERYTHING to Kristen ITC. I almost started crying.

Stratumseind Club De Rechter Eindhoven

but that lower e is their money maker. that’ s like taking away coca- cola’ s red. you just don’ t do that with a working brand. overall i prefer their old logo simply for that reason.

Lazarus

A good funny post. Every font has it's time and place and it's that which is being challenged here. It's about fonts being 'bad' for body text not really about the fonts being bad. For all the designers out there (and anyone else who either through training or long experience 'gets' fonts) let's remember that if there weren't people out there misusing fonts we'd all be designers ;)

If Comic Sans is your typeface of choice then so be it but please bear in mind that virtually every book you pick up to read will be in Times Roman... for good reason, centuries of typefaces have led us to good, legible font choices. Those who decry Times Roman as a worst or bad font because of it's proliferation have missed the point, Times Roman for body text is good; that's what it was designed for.

Bad font usage is where fonts are used for a purpose they were not designed for. Rather like putting racing tyres on a Nissan Micra, there are those who do and think it looks cool. They are wrong but at the end of the day, just like bad font usage, as long as the person doing it is happy with the outcome and doesn't mind a bit of derision from others then who cares. It's, supposedly, a free world and everyone is different. I guess that's what makes it good!

P.S. Flaming the author really just highlights that one of your favourite fonts is in the list :)

Freddy

This is fucking stupid. There are a whole lot worse fonts to pick on besides these.

Curmudgeon Geographer

Regarding Papyrus . . . seriously, far more than college guys using it to insinuate a false-scholarly feel are any New Agie-type who desires to insinuate a mysterious, indeterminate ancientness quality. (Is it east asian? Is it hellenic-egyptian? Is it Indian? Is it weathered Roman? No, it's all of the above! New Age jackpot!)

Walk up and down the aisles of a Whole Foods, especially the medicines section, and you will see Papyrus on every variety of things like green tea bottles, homeopathic remedies, etc.

Catherine

You're hilarious! I couldn't agree more! My mom always types her emails she uses to plan 4th grade classroom parties in Comic Sans with Curlz as the title in pink!

I actually like Mistral and Brush Script when used in all caps.

I also HATE Party LET with a passion!

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Helen

Hilarious... thanks for the reflections

MSX

you forgot monotype corsiva

linduh

what about hobo?

Jennifer

Hallelujah...someone actually agrees with me. Papyrus and Curlz should be discontinued altogether. YUCK! Curlz is on everyone's homemade advertisements. ICKKKKK and Papyrus is used by "professionals" and it looks soooo overused and I don't even want to use their services if they can't find a more unique font.

David F

Hey, great article. Many laughs because... you know, it's all true!

I hope you don't mind but I posted about this article over at my blog. I linked you a gazillion times in the post.


http://bad-graphics.blogspot.com/2008/09/article-americas-most-fonted-7-worst.html


rose

http://www.newfonts.net/index.php?pa=show_font&id=121


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Nothing says WE'RE WACKY! like Matisse

Alex L

I totally laughed my way through this list. Great examples. None of these fonts are poorly designed; it's just that they've been overused, and often in very inappropriate situations.

Except Comic Sans, because that one's just ugly.

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Longhorn Design

Most of the people who use fonts like "Comic Sans" or "Curlz MT" are not designers. These are that "comes with printshop deluxe and 1,000 pieces of garbage clipart", my secretary does are newsletter, type of user and they make REAL designers look bad and they make designs that look worse!!!

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John

Don't forget AvQest, the Diablo font. It used to be everywhere a few years ago. And it still lingers in the scary movie poster scene.

Sprammy

Arial/Helvetica are not fonts, they are the "normal" letters, like how Americans don't have an accent and white people don't have color.

PS: I love Comic Sans because it's so bad, you people need to learn to love it.

Evil Genius

Where's Impact? That's a pretty overused and horrible font.

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Rhian

That was hilarious! I could not stop laughing! I HATE HATE Papyrus font, yuck

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JMac

Great list! How to include all of the bad ones? Ravie Bold and Showcard Gothic are both used far too much in homemad ads in a vain attempt to be both different and fancy. Anything ever designed around Halloween isn't complete unless written in Chiller. And finally for a font that looks like it should be shaved, try Jokerman.

Nick D. Clements

The all time, world's worst, and most widely used font, without a doubt, without argument, is SAND FONT! It's use should be illegal, a crime punishable by death. It's a font that I find so disgusting, I won't, no, CAN'T even bring myself to use it to be funny or ironic. If you never believed one could have a true loathing for a typeface, spend any amount of time looking at something written in SAND FONT... and you will.

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If you dumbasses are that bitched on by fonts get the fuck off this planet and go type in some oojabalab language.

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Alex

I really think Brushscript should make it to the list and also be in the top 3...

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i never cease to be amazed that people continue to comment on this WONK blog post 3 YEARS LATER. god help you lauren if you ever want a job in the font or personal training communities. BLACKLIST.

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Marissa

Great list! I would like to nominate "Scriptina", though, and make it EIGHT worst fonts!

Allie Smith

Papyrus makes me want to kill people.

Erin Joy

I'm disappointed Papyrus isn't higher on the list.

adam

This is really great info thank you, this is just what I need

Karsten

Where's times?

josh vardy

Jokerman is possibly THE worst font out there, I can't really think of any font that scream "I'm an asshole, I have hairy words" more than Jokerman.

Reuben

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Reuben

While this was not directly part of the terms of reference of the research it provides a useful context in terms of some of the services available to visually impaired people. In this way they provide a more compensatory service that aims to promote the perceived normality. The impact of individual pieces of legislation is arguable and in most cases unmeasured.

Reuben

While this was not directly part of the terms of reference of the research it provides a useful context in terms of some of the services available to visually impaired people. In this way they provide a more compensatory service that aims to promote the perceived normality. The impact of individual pieces of legislation is arguable and in most cases unmeasured.

paul

Avatar uses the Papyrus font for the subtitles!

CGB

All good choices and we most definitely agree on your number one, comic sans is the devil and we need to banish it and all of it's children to a life of nothingness! I hope you put together a post on the 7 greatest fonts. I'm sure we can agree that America's Font Copperplate Gothic Bold is the best font of all time.

nahbois

My daughter's OFFICIAL STATE BIRTH CERTIFICATE is in comic sans! I was so pissed.

Handwriting expert

I enjoyed reading it. I'm supposed to be somewhere else in a minute but I stuck to reading the story. I like the quality of your blog :D

Kay

Any others to add?

Brush Script & Hobo.

Admittedly, I have been guilty of the former; but hey, we all make mistakes.

Logo design

Out of these seven I don't like the comic sans font. It looks really pathetic and odd. Thanks.

Sagar Prashant Bhatt

I don't think that these are the worst fonts. Actually I think that Comic Sans MS is better than Times New Roman.

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Impressive blog! -Arron

Jack

My 7th grade Algebra teacher used Kristen ITC on everything,and my report cards in elementary school were done in Comic Sans. Both of those are overused by people who have kid-related jobs because it makes them feel like a little kid when they're not.

james

#8 Chiller.

It's terrible even thinking about it...

Atul

Ask me. Been in law practise for nearly 10 years and cringed at the sight of legal practitioners submitting case briefs in Comic San; even an Administrative Tribunal even issuing its orders in THAT font. And these are the folks who hate poor Bookman Old Style users like me.

Atul

Btw, pursuing Doctorate in Law from a University that insists on Thesis being printed in either Times New Roman or Verdana ... kill me :/

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