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Useful Tips > Fonts That Annoy People

Fonts That Annoy People

When I was going to the University of Texas in the late-80s, I took a class called Parageography taught by Dr. Doug Parker. Parageography is the study of imaginary places and it was taught in the Classics Department. It became my favorites class of all time; even beating out recess.

The reason I bring this up is because one day, Dr. Parker told us how much he loved fonts. He continuously looked for new fonts and loaded them onto the printer in the main office of the department. (Back in those days, you had to install fonts on your machine and on the printer.) In fact, one day he installed one font too many and overloaded the printer, causing it to crash in biblical ways.

Dr. Doug Parker is a font collector. You know the type... designer, graphic artist, independent publisher or just a geek who has well over 5,000 fonts and commonly downloads them just because they look cool knowing full well that they will never use the majority of them.

Font collectors are also the best resource to judge the look and popularity of a particular font. When you see thousands of them in a short amount of time, you start to lean towards those that have a particular look and shy away from others.

What is interesting is that the majority of font collectors (and there are many of them) tend to shy away from the same ones showing that there truly are fonts that should have never seen the light of day.

I perused the internet and created a list of those that seem to have the most negative effect on people.

1. Comic Sans - This font is so disliked, that since 2002, it has had its own hate website. It is a childish font that will probably never go away. Most annoyingly about it is that every once in awhile it is perfect for something that you are working on and you get sick to your stomach knowing that you are only perpetuating the problem.
2. Times New Roman - I was actually surprised to see how many people disliked this font, but I think I understand why. Studies have shown that serif fonts are very difficult for people to read on a computer. (The evidence is pretty overwhelming, but the head of your marketing department is going to continue ignoring the facts.) So I think a caveat needs to be placed on this one that while it is very disliked online, it is liked and sometimes even preferred in print materials.
3. Monotype Corsiva - This font is like the child of Old English and some weird pirate font. It had been around since the beginning of Windows, but it looks so cheesy. Have you noticed how many times it is used by religious and historical organizations? The want Old English, but they know that most of their readers will struggle to read it, so they switch to Monotype Corsiva. And don't even get me started about how awful it is in all caps.
4. Papyrus - When this font first came out, I was a big fan. It was easy-to-read with a touch of the Holy Land making it perfect for holiday cards, weddings, bar mitzvahs and self published books about the Old Testament. But after a couple of years, it became fairly tiresome. It is still used by many people, but it should be used with more care.
5. Fonts that drip with blood - From October 15 - November 2 each year, these are overused. We get it... you like pretending that you are going to massacre your guests at a party at your place on Halloween. Do you have to tell us all about it? There was a time when people kept that a secret. Seriously though, try to find some other fonts that give off a gothic or creepy feel rather than immediately making your fonts look like they need a transfusion.

If you use any of these fonts frequently, PLEASE search for alternatives. Many people will love you for it and you might find that it helps you to move in different creative directions.

And what happened to Dr. Parker? The Classics Department purchased a brand new, high-end printer for him so he could collect to his heart's content without having to worry about the consequences.