Horrible Fonts and Better AlternativesHorrible fonts are everywhere. You seem them on a daily basis. Someone has downloaded one of these horrible fonts from a site. They decided to use them in their logo or their design work, and it makes you cringe. If you see the type and think to yourself “Those are horrible fonts, I can do much better!” You aren’t alone. There are other designers that feel the same way. Here are just a few horrible fonts that really make me want to scream when I see them. I also provided alternatives under each one so you can escape with dignity. Most can be downloaded for free, or if you have the Adobe Software, it is included within the software.
Curlz MT is a terrible font, due to its overuse and it’s halfway jab at a feminine and fun font. I have never actually used this in a design, and I hope I never get to, but there are alternatives out there for creating a feminine mystique. Alternatives: Dancing Script, Sevillana, Allura. Just about any elegant script font will look better than Curlz MT.
PapyrusIf I see this font used one more time for an Egyptian theme or for an all natural product or health spa, I am going to lose my lunch. I hate this font with such a passion that I deleted it from my system. I even recently saw it used for a movie title for a film that I know had a decent budget. There are much more imaginative fonts out there with an organic feel. Or better yet, here’s an idea: if you are creating a logo for an organic company, create your own from scratch. You are creating an identity, not a cliche or embarrassment. This is one of the most horrible fonts out there. Alternatives: Try MothproofScript, Kingthings Calligraphica, Trajan
Comic SansI don’t know and I do not care who designed this font, but stop using it in designs! It is quirky, malformed and is not a good choice for commercial work. If you are trying to create a logo for a children’s product, there are tons of better suited fonts out there. This font doesn’t even look good when used in comics. This is considered by most designers as one of the most horrible fonts. Alternatives: Try Wonder Comic, Action Man, Komika Axis
HelveticaOkay, I know I will catch some flack for this one. I love the font, I really do. It is beautiful in its design and works well for certain applications, such as signage and so on, but not for everything else under the sun. When I see this font used in a movie poster, or for a generic product label with a simple color slapped on it, I just want to scream. How does Helvetica help to sell your product? What have to done to the typeface to make it suit your product? If your have altered it to make it your own, so be it, but stop using Helvetica as a catch-all or safety net for your logo work. There is no “always acceptable” answer. The horror in this one isn’t necessarily the look, its the extreme overusage. Alternatives: Univers, Futura, Frutiger, Akzidenz-Grotesk
CourierWho on earth thinks this is a convincing typewriter font? I have seen entire websites that use this font to mimic a typewriter concept. Anyone can go on dafont.com and find a much more suitable typewriter font. The are plenty that are way more convincing than Courier. The stroke needs to be thicker and less consistent to be a convincing typewriter font. Alternatives: Try Pro Font Windows, Latin Modern Mono, Bitstream, Special Elite
TimesDespite being the default on Word, Times is a decent font, but in the same way that Helvetica is not a catch-all, neither is Times. I can’t think of a single reason to use Times for your Serif font needs when there are others out there that are more interesting, and have better reasons to use them. Helvetica is a good typeface for body copy, as well as Garamond. Futura can work well depending on the application, but stop over using Times. Alternatives: Try Sabon, Jenson, Adobe Garamond Pro
Bank Gothic and CopperplateI hate these fonts as well. Using all caps in just about anything is a no-no and small caps is annoying to read. Both of these fonts are difficult to read. All caps and small caps make a word so hard to read, and the spacing breaks up each word too much. Talk about a design nightmare! You definitely don’t want to use these typefaces for body copy, but I couldn’t imagine confidently using them in a title or display situation effectively either. it seems like everyone loves to use Bank Gothic for anything to do with Sci-fi. Alternatives: Try Stratum Black, FF DIN, Orbitron
ImpactThis font is almost too much to handle. It is so incredibly thick, with a tall x-height, that is overpowers most designs. I see it way too often in titles and headers, and can actually be difficult to read. I like Trade Gothic or News Gothic much better. They seem more controlled and give your the same amount of impact, but without carrying too much weight. Impact seems to be bloated and too weighty. Alternatives: Try Interstate, Franklin Gothic, Coda
This isn’t the most horrible of offenses, but I see it so often, it makes me wonder if anyone even looks around for alternatives, or if they simply just pick from what they have. There are so many script and brush fonts out there that there is no reason to be stuck with just this one. The “I” has a huge swirl on top, the “i” looks more like an “e” with a dot over it, the “n” looks like an “i and an r” together with no dot over the i. I could go on and on. this is definitely not the only brush or script font out there. However, I would argue that it is one of the most difficult to read.
I have seen this font used so much for handwriting, and when I was a novice I was guilty of using it, too. After analysis and experience though, you begin to realize that this isn’t the best handwriting font available on Earth. There are tons more available online, which you can download for free. The reason that this handwriting typeface bothers me so much is the way that it is structured. It is slanted forward, which is aggressive, and it looks angry. It looks like something I would see in an angry letter or something a psychopath or a serial killer would write. Also, if you look at the Q, the tail starts in the center and goes so far below the baseline. The lowercase i isn’t even at the same angle as the rest of the typeface. The lowercase o is too wide compared to other letters. If you really stop and look at it, Dakota has a lot of inconsistencies.
There are horrible fonts out there, and many of us are guilty of using them in some form or fashion. We will use them as novices, not giving a second thought to using them later in our career. It is important to evaluate every typeface that you use, because you want to be sure that the letters are sending the right message. There are tons of alternatives out there, but you have to look for them. I encourage you to always explore other options, so you don’t end up using one of these horrible fonts in your design work.
What do you consider to be horrible fonts? Do you have any suggestions to add to the list? Do you have some good alternatives to these horrible fonts? If you do, share them in the comments below!