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
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
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
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
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
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
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.