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America's Most Fonted: The 7 Worst Fonts


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 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.


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When I saw the adult sized jean jumper thing, i automatically thought mrs frazier in my 7th grade pre algebra class

Geoff Wozniak

The yearly progress report form that is sent to me by my department is done in Comic Sans MS. I once put a note on it under the "any other comments" section that said something to the effect of, "Comic Sans MS makes this look entirely unprofessional". The form hasn't been changed, but at least I said something.

The tragedy continues...


Katie: Hahaha she so rocked the jean jumper

Geoff: That comment pretty much makes you my personal hero. I'll have to check out your site.


This is one of the stupidest pages I have seen on the Internet. You don't like a couple of fonts? Big deal. The stereotypical way you go about bashing them is really quite terrible, and false in much the same way the sentence "I got bitten by a dog once, all dogs are terrible and should be put down." is false. Do you know anybody that actually uses these font in the manner that you actually state? This doesn't even come off as slightly amusing, but as really quite lame.


Comic Sans should be permanently banned. Everywhere. I quite enjoyed the list and found myself nodding in agreement all the way through. Funny stuff.

Devin Ben-Hur

As someone whose core text is rendered at { font-size: small } (what, you own stock in reading glass manufactures?) and whose web page style sheets are denominated in pixels (as if you could assume the size and dot density of my screen), you've got a lot of gumption criticizing anyone else's design choices.


Who let the athletic trainers in?


What? How can Brush Script not make this list?


Wow. Finally a website that deals with the REALLY pertinent issues of the day.

brian kusler

hilarious!! i took a business card job from a client who INSISTED i do his cards in Vivaldi ALL CAPS. no joke. i told him that italics look horrible in all caps but he wasn't having any of it. i think he was also the guy who used "font" as a verb -- as in, "can you font those letters up?"

anyway, he of course refused the cards as illegible when they were done, as i knew he would. which is why i'd insisted he pre-pay for them when he ordered :P


Major omission. CarolesChunk, available here:


Each glyph is a different depiction of the act of vomiting.

It's great for menus, programs, invitations, and the like.


Visit bancomicsans.com if you haven't already to join the Fight Against the Font with cool stickers and other swag.


One font usage strikes me as the weirdest EVER. I work in a psychology lab, and we do experiments with human subjects. We have to explain our experiments in laborious detail to the Institutional Review Board (IRB), a group whose only job is to ensure that experiments are safe, legal and ethical. Serious, right? Except their entire website is done in Comic Sans. My head asplode everytime I have to log in.


Hahaha, these are such great examples


<span style="font-face: courier;" >You all suck. Don't shoot the messenger. </rant>


What about Times New Roman? I'm so sick of the default font!

Penguin Pete

OK, I'll shoot:

Another reason to hate these is that they're all Microsoft-only fonts. (and if they've been ported, I don't care. Even if they were licensed off-platform, every time you see one of these, think Windows XP on AOL. You'll never be wrong.)

Fontagraphy is for those who lack the ability to create real art.


So... apart from being used too much by clueless people, why exactly are these fonts the worst?


This is hilarious.
In defense of the actual fonts...they are well designed. The ubiquity of them via bundling has led to their unfortunate misuse/abuse/overuse/etc.

In the image at the top of the article you have mixed up Bradley Font and Viner Hand (or you have done so in the font examples)


I think it should be a worldwide contest to spot the most inappropriate use of Comic Sans... I've seen it on a funeral home window flier for bereavement counselling!


Where's Arial?


To the people complaining about this article - get a life you losers. If you don't like it don't read it, no-one's forcing you.

I personally thought it was quality, they should make Comic Sans illegal.


What about Sand? A font that looks like it was shat into existence. Seriously - it looks like poo.


You forgot Tekton.


Why are these fonts the worst? Because the entire goal of typography is to present written ideas visually, using a typeface that complements the words and tones being used. When office execs send out business-minded emails in Comic Sans, or when Curlz is used for the body of a flyer, such fonts are being misused: the way in which they're implemented are far departures from their original intended use.

So what? Well, think of other things that are ubiquitously overused. Take the word awesome, for example. The word itself is a powerful one, meaning that the subject has actually inspired awe. However, the misuse of this word ("Hey, your email address is awesome!") has cheapened its meaning to the point where it's no longer as pure and powerful when used in its intended context. If you were a novelist and needed a word to describe something that was truely awe-inspiring, using a word like awesome would detract from that idea, as it's a word that's more closely associated with its misuse than its actual meaning. The word itself—an otherwise acceptable word—has become so overused that it's lost its efficacy in relating ideas.

Similarly, such fonts have become overused, confused, and, as a result, bad. Even if Vivaldi is appropriate for a piece of design work, it's probably a mistake for the designer to use it, as it has been misused to the point where it no longer evokes the intended response. It's no longer an effective way of communicating an idea. Thus, it's become a typographic failure.

Does that make sense, O' Critics? Do you agree, designers?


Yeah, I (the writer of the post) agree with that POV, Ben. Probably the real focus of my hatred is font abusers and not the actual fonts themselves. Like many a wanted criminal before them, these fonts were seriously failed by society before they rose to notoriety.

Josh Wand

Most abused sign font: Algerian.

See: http://www.flickr.com/groups/algerianfont/pool/

Once you know what it looks like, you'll start seeing it EVERYWHERE.


How can we forget Mistral?
I have seen this used on things from hair salons, to restaurants, and even women's feminine pads. It is the typeface used when someone wants something 'hand written'. What really makes this typeface bad is that the letters don't even connect when they sit next to each other.

I'm willing to go on the road to help eradicate this typeface.

Font of wisdom

Given the number of comments this post has received, LMNOP should switch to being all about fonts


Talking about comic font. I have an upper-level maths book with definition-theorem-proof titles in comic. I just can't take the book seriously (and it's not too bad a book).


I would just like to say to all of you who have responded to this blog (who do not know lauren personally) about how upset you are about fonts that she picked or did not pick...GO GET LAID OR SOMETHING. clearly, you do not appreciate or understand her humor or anything funny at all.


Thank you so much for this. My whole office floor has been guffawing for the past several minutes.

I would suggest Copperplate belongs on or very near this list. You know, the one used by people WHO THINK CAPS LOCK = COOL.

Matt Price

Oh my God--who knew this would be the post that broke the dam? Also, your "who let the athletic trainers in" had me crack up and had the girl in my office looking at me oddly.


IMO, Algerian is #1.


When I saw the post title I thought to myself.....COMIC SANS!

I was pleased to see that it made #1 on your list. I hate it too.

Very funny post! :)


Um i came across this blog unintentionally as i was crusing the internet at work and you've totally offended me by your posts that were not directed at me nor mention me nor have anything to do with my life at all. i'm insulted by your very serious critique fonts and their usage. damn you mcmahon, damn you.

hey, remember when we went to six flags? that was fun.



Max Harding

These aren't the worst wtf


I'd rank Papyrus at the very top.

It's overused in ads, logos, it's become ubiquitous to the point of unavoidability.


I agree, Sand is definitely up there with Comic Sans... seriously, people, Comic Sans in the workplace?!?!?


I think the most amazing revelation to come of this post is not a better understanding of bad fonts,but a better understanding of just how many people don't really do anything at work but surf the internet.

Old printer

Remember Souvenir? A really ugly display face that was used by every small business in store window ads, shopper magazine ads, menu printing, etc. It was ubiquitous for about a decade, then died away, like the plague being no longer fatal. Fortunately, it was pre-personal computer. I have never seen it among the fonts on any computer I've used. It's useful to distinguish between display faces and text faces. Typographers also are concerned with the a face's **readability**. The main problem with the seven slagged faces (or fonts, if you will) is that they are all display faces, but people use them as text faces. Display faces are meant to be used sparingly, in attention-grabbing headlines in commercial announcements (a/k/a advertisements) or special uses, like the afore-mentioned wedding invitation. Display faces are difficult going if overused. Using Comic sans as a text face is a crime against readability, as well as credibility. Comic sans actually has some utility in... comics. Otherwise, it should fade away but won't, thanks to Mister Softy. Curlz MT and Kristen ITC should disappear, as they are ugly. The remaining four faces are actually attractive, just over-used to the point of abuse.

Bill Webb

You SO forgot Tempus Sans ITC. Good only for labeling "Column A" and "Column B" on menus at Asian restaurants.


This is absolutely hilarious but you forgot Sand. Unfortunately I can't seem to...


I have a theory: There's a proper and tasteful use (in some cases maybe only one) for every single typeface ever designed. But knowing the exact moment when to use Dom Casual or Eras Bold... that's the real trick.

Rob Marquardt

"What? How can Brush Script not make this list?"

And its partners in crime, Hobo and Stencil, which Adobe thoughtfully sold in a three-pack.

P.S. The non-breaking space added after every sentence in the article to force double-spacing after a period is worthy of a blog rant of its own.

Collapsing Multiple Spaces: One of the Things HTML Got Right.   ; )


I agree with the list. I also agree that Mistral should be on the list: for some reason, whenever I see it, I instantly think "strip club". I agree that Sand should be there: it's often used to either for children's applications, or for horror applications.

Also, where's Impact? It's a crutch for mediocre billboard designers. And it should never be used at small sizes.

Cooper Black should also be on the list. It was overused in the 1970s but has come back for 70s retro (as if there aren't any other 70s fonts). Cooper Black=leisure suit

Delphin is another pseudo-calligraphy font often used in restaurants trying to look upscale.

And what about Zapf Chancery (especially in all caps)? I refuse to get the engraved door for my Razr phone just because it uses this font.

Tekton: in the kiddie pseudo-handwriting genre

Overused fonts that aren't really bad but killed by ubiquity: Times New Roman, Verdana (a great screen font but monotonous when used excessively in print applications), Helvetica (a favorite of the Swiss Cheese crowd and unimaginative architects), CrackHouse (a House Industries font that's a favorite of low-rent retail packaging designers), Cezanne (a P22 font which looked nice when it first came out but has now often used inappropriately)

And Arial looks like a bad knockoff of Helvetica. I hate it when people mix Arial and Helvetica in the same layout.

It's not just overuse that hurts a font, it's also bad distortion of fonts that can make an okay font look terrible. Think WordArt. And where there is WordArt used, there is also probably bad vector clip art nearby (like "where there's smoke, there's fire").

A concerned LMNOP commentator

I think you people are missing the point... The list wouldn't have been funny if it included half the fonts known to man. You weird-o font nazis needs to cool it.


Great post :-) Yeah, I learned long ago how theological these arguments about type can get...the zealots are plenty. I, myself, have an irrational hatred of Comic Sans that goes back years that I blogged about in early 2005. My post is more contemptuous than yours, but then Comic Sans is the type of blasphemy that can stir my fundamentalist rage.


Comic Sans MS

Couldn't agree more!


What? No Zapf Chancery? Heh!


The thing about Comic is that you can actually read it.

Go to some sites (hp.com comes to mind), who think that 3-pt type is cool,
and if you can squeeze more stuff on a page, that's even better.

And these guys sell equipment that is supposed to make the written word easy to read.



Thanks for making me laugh out loud.

Will Casey

Wow Lauren, I can't believe I randomly clicked on a link to your blog. That's pretty neat. My Outlook sig is Comic Sans... And I'm sticking with it.


Coming from a perspective where I see far too many poorly designed icons a day to ever get a solid night's sleep again, I was going to suggest Scriptina, which is the bane of decent fanart designers everywhere, but the majority of your fonts are used in multiple media, not just graphic art. I did see Scriptina used on a billboard once and nearly drove off the road in surprise, though.

This is from a girl who regularly abuses Jean-Claude's Hand, though, so maybe I should pipe down.


I love it! and I am in good company - I use Papyrus on my laptop desktop, and love it. Me n Brad are obviously meant to be....


Mistral and Brush Script please.

Jonathan Dobres

Good (or bad?) choices for the list overall, and I can't argue with Comic Sans at the number one position. It's even shown up, believe it or not, in medical records.


"Yeah, I (the writer of the post) agree with that POV, Ben. Probably the real focus of my hatred is font abusers and not the actual fonts themselves. Like many a wanted criminal before them, these fonts were seriously failed by society before they rose to notoriety."

Your article does no such thing. In fact, it says very little. If you had pointed out how these fonts should be used, it would have been interesting. Hell, you didn't even tell us why they're bad fonts. Just that you hate them and 'these people use them'.



ps. and to those who say "comic sans, couldn't agree more" have you been living in a cave? It's been the default awful font for years. The author is just regurgitating the obvious.

Jeff Croft

This article should be titled "The 7 Worst Script Fonts."

Where are the bad sans, serifs, blackletters, and so on?


I've used a few of those fonts in ways where they've complimented the design with their style. Designers just have to 'get it' when it comes to what the tone of a font is, and the proper use. It's the conflicting of these mental images of 'tone' that creates bad design.

...But then there is Hobo...Ughhhh


Nice list. Very close to what I would put. Of course we all loathe Comic Sans. My company distributed benefit/401k handouts entirely in that typeface. Barf!

If you were to expand the list, I would tack on Mistral, Chiller, Impact, Showcard Gothic. But excellent job. Especially thumbs up for putting Bradley Hand ITC on there, a font that looks shitty and rastery in any use.

Muffy Wong

Oh. SO true about Comic Sans which my boss at the yoga studio I work at will NOT let go of, even in emails.

I got reprimanded for trying to make our e-mails a little classier but no. I have to "highlight all headings, keep the words all bold and all caps in comic sans."

Shoot. Me. Now.


I'm a graphic designer, and in one of my college classes, we had to design a cd cover. we then presented them to the class and talked about them. One girl, when she showed her album of an Aersomith's Greatest Hits, had the font "SAND" used all over. There was a unanimous "gasp!" that came from the rest of the classroom. Ugh!


Hilarious! And I can say: it also counts for Belgium!
Especially the Comic sans one. I truly hate that font.


Thanks Lauren. Your list (and some subsequent comments) had me laughing out loud at work. I especially liked the examples of common abusers. Too funny.


You guys are idiots. Dumb persons


I didn't even know I had those fonts but I agree they are pretty ugly. I am a Californian FB and a One Stroke Script LT man myself.

Nicely done.

Thomas Edwards

You'll also find Comic Sans users put extra spaces in between a sentence and far too many exclamation marks !!!!!!!


Hah, funny page :)

Tony Orlando

I agree with those that complain about Algerian. You see it on signs all the time. My theory is that is so overused because it's the first "fancy" font a user finds when looking at a list of MS Office fonts alphabetically.

I've been complaining about it for a good ten years now.


Ah, it reminds me of the days when Eurostyle Extended No. 2, Brush Script and Hobo were the banes of our existence. You try to tell these young kids that and they just won't believe you.


I agree with your choices, though there is something sort of sexy about Papyrus that I can't put my finger on. Papyrus might be the Pamela Anderson of fonts. I would add University Roman into this rogue's gallery, used on all manner of the crappiest designs in the world, mostly awnings of galleries that sell Thomas Kincaid paintings.


Nice choices.

Some friends and I started a Papyrus photo pool to document it's ubiquity.



For the Papyrus lover (or hater): I heart Papyrus.

A  Math Competitior

Hey, I think this is unfair treatment to Comic Sans MS. Comic Sans in certain places are the best fonts (i.e. Math tests at Math competitions). This font let's people read the quetion quickly without putting too much effort on the eyes. Sadly, alot are written in Times New Roman which is easier to misread or lose your place.


Listen, I agree, in general, that most of these fonts are crap, but I have to come to Comic Sans' defense. That font was designed by serious professionals with one purpose in mind. Feel free to attack AIM & Microsoft Word users that go happy with the font choices, but really, it's a highly readable, well-designed sans-serif font. But that doesn't mean you should do your company's annual report in it...

Actually, there are good (okay... decent) uses for every font on the list-- otherwise, why would someone spend the time and $$ to design them at all?

All you're really doing here is calling these fonts cliche, and that's not the same as "worst". Bad fonts have poor angles, don't scale and are not done professionally... none of these fit that category.

What you're complaining of is a simple case of misuse. One could say the same thing about TABLE's in HTML or cliche's in language. Does that make it the WORST tag or the WORST sentence. Not really. So, I have to respectfully disagree that these are the WORST fonts ever.

Arthur Davidson Ficke

Comic Sans makes a good Title Bar font in Windows.

Stuart Ian Burns

Comic Sans walks into a bar only to be told 'We don't serve your type here...'


I am sorry, but if you believe that Comic Sans is a "well designed font", you haven't the faintest clue about font design.

Look at how the characters line up. Note that the strokes go all over the place and don't follow any sort of set pattern. Try to kern Comic Sans into something that looks good.

It is NOT a well designed font.


MS Comic Sans the most lovely font overhere in Russia by spammers (they are ugly & dirty like comic itself) and in menu in Moscow restoraunts

Hue Mann

You missed the biggy! Times New Roman #0 (not even good enough to get a actual digit)

Times New Roman is despicable piece of something that when discovered is almost always scrapped off the bottom of the shoe with disgust.

Times New Roman is a waste of ink, a horrid misuse of pixcels and an indicator if a 'dated' mind. Users with a preference for using it are 'defaults' themselves and the reason the knuckle bandage industry is flourishing.

Juan Pablo De Gregorio

No, no, no!!!
Bad, too bad...
I want to see analysis of forms and counters.
Where is rotis?
Bad election, and is not justify.

Read please
www.letritas.blogspot.com and

before kill the work of a great designer.

(sorry by my poor english)

Marques TruFont

Just choose a font that fits the context. If it's a term paper, play it straight with Times New Roman. If it's any sort of "personal" correspondence, by all means it's your choice to use Sand if you want. If it's a web site with a lot of code examples, of course you use Courier.

And just because there is an island of misfit fonts out there doesn't mean they can't be loved. :)

Marques TruFont

Comic Sans walks into a bar only to be told 'We don't serve your type here...'

Excellent. I love it.

Ivan Minic

Hobo has potential ;)

Ken Hirsch

How Comic Sans came about:


WHAAAT?? No Algerian?? Thought it would have been right up there with the worst.


#8: Lithos


I thought this was cute and I have to agree that Comic Sans is definitely one of the most overly abused fonts ever. I'm sure that it has its uses but I just can't even look at it anymore without cringing.

to all the people that are taking this personally for some reason.. what the fuck?! you don't see this kind of resentment unless it's about politics or religion or porn or something. Get a grip.


The hospital I work for has chosen Comic Sans as its corporate typeface. Every offical notice, letterhead, signpost or form has to be in Comic Sans. I think the reasoning is that it's a children's hospital so lets not use a scary font with sharp corners. It's a design nightmare. You want to prescribe morphine? The form is in Comic Sans. Everything is in Comic Sans. It is worse than you can possibly imagine.


what about those great CYBER fonts?
the other day i saw a lumber mill using the "BLADERUNNER" font on its signage.
o, sublime beauty!


after reading the "about" section, i gathered that LMNOP is not a graphic designer or a typographer, which frees her up to comment in any way about font abuse without having to be grilled on her scholarship.

as a graphic designer and a typographer, i found her analysis extremely amusing. dead on, in fact. i will be sharing her take with my design students when we discuss the difference between display and text typefaces--this is the crux of the matter.


Another great typographic offender was missed: Serpentine--the workhorse font of construction crews, the trades, and all things "X-treme." Just picture in your mind the white vinyl logo of some local car audio shop against the tinted glass of a tricked-out '93 Civic.


Okay...I agree with MOST being the worst, but I rather like Bradley...especially when I think of the young co-eds using and abusing it....


A slight defense of Comic-Sans is that, being a reproduction of comic style typography, it should only be used in upper case. And even then, you should be creating a comic or cartoon on your computer. Any other use may result in a civil action being brought.

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