The League of Evil Fonts

Every now and then you will come across an evil font. It is hard to really describe what constitutes these fonts as being evil, but sometimes, as soon as you lay eyes on them, you realise that just a little bit of excess usage has resulted in these fonts being considered ugly, horrible, crap, disastrous, eye-burning, retina-scarring, and overall – evil. Let’s start with one example.

Lucida Handwriting

What’s that I hear? Your eyes aren’t burned out yet?

Mistral

Ouch, that hurts a bit. Now maybe you’re wondering why I chose to set out the previews in this way. Not only might you possibly have the glory in knowing what fantasmic fonts these are, but you get to experience (almost!) the full-frontal horror of every font with not just a title, but a paragraph of text as well! Perhaps you should thank me that I didn’t make that paragraph any longer. πŸ˜‰

Let’s move on to the God of too much. I mean, you think these fonts are simple, script-like, and just… overused? Are you thinking that maybe there are fonts with too much decoration, brouhaha and havoc all around? Yes, there certainly is:

Jokerman font

How many dots and sticky-outy lines could you possibly fit into one font design? It’s ridiculous. Kids will like this font to some extent, but really – for what purpose would you need such a disgusting, badly designed, messy font? I’d like to think that even when it comes to advertising something for kids, they aren’t going to care for fonts. Yes, Jokerman tells me, ‘fun!’ (as well as ‘ohmyIseeorangecowsouchmyeyes’), but if you have a target audience of children, they might be at the age when they’re only starting to learn to read. Jokerman doesn’t help when it has extra dotties and titties and what have you. Even when adults may be reading the signs, it’s going to make it awfully hard to read. No one wants to read an entire paragraph in Jokerman. No one. I’ll prove it to you:

Jokerman paragraph

Let’s keep this in mind though. Jokerman is the only ridiculously decorated font I have included in this blog so far. But it is not a nice font. There are many decorated fonts which look good given a certain purpose and when not overused. But when it comes to the big culprits I’ve mentioned so far, Lucida Handwriting and Mistral are a bit simple. They come pretty close to resembling handwriting.

So why is it that quite possibly the simplest font – non serif, meaning no little curls and curves like Times New Roman or Georgia; a casual font; a font that is easy to read; a font originally intended for comic books – is the most hated?

Comic Sans MS
Oh god, my eyes.

The simple answer is this: It is overused. You should never abuse a font in such a way that it is overused. People abused this font. They used it on their essays when they went to school. On school students’ detention forms. On newspaper advertisements for a search for employees. How can anyone take you seriously with this font?

In primary school, in around the year 2001, I received a lot of newsletters and important notes for my parents. Notes that they were required to sign to give permission for excursions and carnivals. But oh man, of all fonts, they chose Comic Sans MS. As I said, how can you be taken seriously? You’re informing me of a head lice breakout and you are writing in uppercase. In Comic Sans. The title is large. Bold. Italicised. And oh, to top it off, it’s underlined too. With the pathetic asterisks. Please tell me you don’t take any of these seriously.

Head lice alert!

There is an appropriate font for every occasion. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to write everything in Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman to always be on the safe side. Don’t be afraid to try new fonts. Just make sure you choose carefully. Don’t choose Jokerman for an obituary. Don’t choose a chilling gothic font for a children’s birthday party invitation.

Download fonts, use them. Do not abuse them. There are some very lovely fonts out there, and used for a simply title or heading, look lovely.

Fonts example

But not like this.

A line of text in different fonts.

For crying out loud. Use a lovely font. Use it for titles, a whole sentence if you must. I can’t tell you how horrible one line of a decorative font looks. But that, up there, looks like shit. Because I just used 493302 different fonts in the one image. Imagine if you used even just three different fonts throughout your website layout. Imagine using three of those, with not even a thought about default fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. Pick three of those fonts, tell me you can make an amazing layout with three of those fonts.

You can’t. It will look utterly horrible. It will hurt people’s eyes. If that’s what you’re going for – well! – by all means, go ahead and do it. I’ve given you the recipe to a horrible design. I know you have your favourite “pretty” fonts, but don’t overuse them.

You also need standard typefaces. It’s why novels were never printed in Lucida Handwriting. Ouch. One very popular font, Helvetica, recently celebrated its 50th birthday and the font is still being recognised today because it is versatile, clear, without intrinsic meaning in its form, and is pretty much neutral.

Because obviously no one is going to take you seriously with a head lice alert in Comic Sans. πŸ™„

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