Typography is an art. Every typeface is created with a purpose, carefully crafted by a type designer. Choosing a font over another can change the mood of a design (poster, website or else) completely. There are typefaces for all purposes and thousands to choose from.
In design like in business, you will want to avoid making typographic faux-pas. It’s very easy to get carried away when there are so many fonts available. There are typefaces you must avoid however as they are perceived in the industry as tacky, ridiculous, hard to read or simply bad. If you want to make a good impression, you will want to make sure your text is styled properly and with a font that is easy to read and appropriate for the message it communicates.
So here are 5 fonts you will want to avoid if you want to keep a professional look:
Comic Sans is a typeface that has been around since 1994, designed by Vincent Connare for Microsoft’s Windows 95 OS. It’s a child-oriented font that was meant to be used in Microsoft Bob but that ended up as one of Microsoft default fonts. Comic Sans is meant to be goofy and fun, to be used in speech bubbles. Instead, many clueless users started using it for all kinds of documents, including serious papers. In the design industry, this typeface is considered a no-no, something no one should never ever use unless you’re a 10 year old inviting your friends to a party. There is no excuse for using a comical script font on legal documents, envelopes or posters that are not meant for kids. If you’re still not convinced, check out the awesome Comic Sans Criminal website.
Are you an ancient Egyptian? Or do you enjoy pretending you write on papyrus? Unless you answered yes to those two questions, there is no reason why you should ever use Papyrus. This typeface created by Chris Costello in 1982 was hand-drawn and its aim is to mimic what the English language would look like if ever written on papyrus 2000 years ago. It’s generally pretty hideous and you should restrain yourself from choosing it unless you’re 100% sure you can pull it off (somehow James Cameron was able to manage an acceptable variation of it for the title of Avatar, and even then it was heavily criticized) or for giving a (very) antique look for a heading.
Curlz MT was designed by Carl Crossgrove and Steve Matteson in 1995. This typeface falls into the category “display” but I strongly believe they should create a custom category for it called “all over the place”; its crazy swirls make it almost impossible to read and, unless you are a female preteen trying to look cute, it’s a typeface you should absolutely avoid.
Designed by Robert E. Smith in 1942, Brush Script is one of those older typefaces that we wish would have stayed in the past. Popular in the 40s and 50s, it slowly waned in the 60s as International Typographic Style (which gave us Helvetica and Akzidenz Grotesk) gained in popularity. Brush Script emulates handwritten letters painted with an ink brush. Frequent abusers of this typeface include nostalgic people who believe that somehow, at some point in time, someone wrote this way. Unfortunately Brush Script is quite graceless and ugly, and it lacks the organic feel of a real handwritten text.
Courier is a personal favourite of mine when it comes to ugly fonts. Originally designed in 1955 by Howard Kettler, it was created to resemble the text that would come out of a typewriter. If you’re trying to mimic a typewriter (I don’t know why anyone would want that but let’s just say…) or if you’re looking for a boring and serious font to use for a screenplay or for its monospace properties, Courier is the way to go. Otherwise, stay away from it; it’s devoid of any personality and it’s extremely static. It won’t bring anything to your work.
Avoiding these 5 fonts are the first step in ensuring a professional look for your work, whether it’s a text, a poster, a business card or else. I strongly encourage you to read the history of the typeface you will choose to work with, especially if you work in the field of design. If you’re looking for nice free fonts to download, you should check out these 3 previous posts I wrote: