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
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
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 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
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 cursive and shit.
Probable famous user: Brad Pitt
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
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
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.