Oct
10

5 fonts you need to stop using (and 9 better swap-ins!)

posted on October 10th 2013 in best practice & Fonts and typography with 32 Comments

Before I go any further, I am calling out these fonts because I see them being abused ALL THE MOTHERLOVIN’ TIME.

Am I saying you’re a dick for using them? No. The likelihood is that you don’t KNOW they’re being used everywhere else under the sun. But I know (and so will your clients).

I have so many of AWESOME people subscribed to my list and I want you and your business to look the best it can do, dammit! Choosing your design and branding consciously means you are much more likely to come across as the goddamn awesome, professional, unique business owners and blog authors that you are. (Oh, and P.S? That means more people wanting to give you the MONEY you deserve because you’ll be taken more seriously).

So, here is a list of  the five fonts that need to be UPGRADED (and some good FREE options that you could replace them with. I know right?! Nothing more annoying than reading one of these lists and thinking, “Well. OK. Thanks for your snotty, elitist opinion, but what the fuck should I use instead?!”)

Without further ado…

Font crime # 1: Comic sans

comicsans

Make the Font Police happy by using this instead: Good Dog

Oh God. I had to get this one out of the way. Comic Sans. Ugh.

Now, this font has its place. One of my dearest friends is a school teacher and uses this font for slides  and lesson notes because it is pretty easy to read when printed and also, it has the added bonus of being installed on pretty much everyone’s computer, so students can open up documents that have been emailed to them and they look exactly the same. THAT is a situation where it’s completely acceptable to use.

On the web or in your branding? Uh, no. It’s a quasi-comic style and narrowly misses the “fun for kids” look. It’s used for local bake sales and nursery newsletters, but because it’s so overused, it doesn’t look professional. What it does look like, however, is that you have just  discovered the font selection dropdown in Word for Windows 3.1 while listening to Right Said Fred’s greatest hits on tape.

If you’re looking for something that’s quite childlike, and has fun and a bit of rounded character, try Good Dog.

Font crime # 2: Lobster

lobster

Make the Font Police happy by using this instead: Deftone StylusLobster 2 or (if you want to spend some dough) Thirsty

This font is relatively new to the scene, but by CHRIST has it been popular. It’s a quirky, vintagey-yet-solid looking script typeface, and while there may be a few of you out there thinking, “Hang on, that’s one of the GOOD ones, isn’t it?”, then please know this; a font has been seriously overused when you see it on the back of a bus. First Buses in the UK use Lobster for what would appear to be ALL of their bus advertising. And the main isssue with it? It’s TOO distinctive. You can spot it from 20 paces, and because it was a freebie font, designers have just gone WILD with it. Check out this parody on Behance and you’ll see what I mean.

There are two alternatives here, one for the die hard Lobster fans, the slightly-less-well-used-yet-still-distinctive Lobster 2, or something with a great solid retro feel, Deftone Stylus. If you fancy being a bit flash-with-the-cash, try Thirsty as well.

Font crime # 3: Papyrus

papyrus

Make the font police happy by using this instead: ANYTHING! ANYTHING ELSE!

I’m going out on a limb here: PAPYRUS IS FUCKING DISGUSTING.

There is only one reason I believe this typeface should be used ever, and that is this: “Because I am an 11 year old and I am preparing a project on the Egyptians for my schoolteacher”.

There are no other reasons this font should be used. ZERO REASONS, PEOPLE.

No, not because your restaurant menu needs to look “rustic”. No, not because your “with compliments” slip needs a bit of “tszujing” (who can say, “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”?!). NO. It has no purpose except for the type of homework where you soak paper in tea and burn the edges to look like parchment.

As I can only assume you’d be using this for a dare, it’s hard to make a suggestion, BUT if you’re looking for something distinctive-yet-rustic, perhaps a little handwritten or “ancient manuscripty”, try Aquiline Two or Orchidee.

Font crime # 4: Bradley Hand ITC

bradleyhanditc

Make the font police happy by using this instead: Angelina

I love a good handwritten font style as much as the next person. It adds a nice personal feel to a design if you break up large areas of  text with a title or subheading in a typeface that looks as if it were penned by the designer.

However, Bradley Hand ITC looks nothing like handwriting. It’s a weird bastardisation of not-quite-handwriting, but different-to-Arial-and-Times-New-Roman. I mean, really, who dots their “i” like that?! NOBODY!

If you want to use a handwritten font style that’s still quite readable, I like Angelina.

Font crime #5: Curlz MT

curlz

Make the font police happy by using this instead: Mountains of ChristmasAmadeus

Picture this: It’s 5pm on Christmas Day. You’ve noshed down your turkey dinner with all the trimmings, two helpings of Christmas pudding, five mince pies, three glasses (bottles?) of red wine, seventeen After Eight mints, one Buck’s Fizz, a cursory handful or twelve of bombay mix/pistachio nuts/Pringles/whatever your mum puts out to “tide you over until dinner” (because clearly that bag of chocolate coins you just scoffed down and the Christmas cake your nana brought over isn’t enough food) and a partridge in a pear tree. You’re watching Eastenders for the second time today, and those sprouts are starting to repeat on grandad who’s guffing silently in the corner as he snores. There is one word for this feeling, and it is “bleurgh”.

THAT FEELING IS CURLZ MT. It’s just too much. er, curliness, without a lot of style.

If you want whimsical, try Mountains of Christmas – a really great “Harry Potter”-esque font, or if you want uber-girly-girl, look at Amadeus

 

In summary, the problem with a lot of these over-used fonts isn’t actually the fact they’re over-used. (Well, not completely, anyway.)

It’s because they’re only going halfway with their style. Comic Sans is almost-comicy, but not quite. Bradley Hand is almost-handwriting-y, but something misses the mark.

Go all in and be brave with your font choices. Choose your style because it represents you (not because it sort of fits and more people will like it that way).

So tell me, what do YOU think? Any fonts you love using that should be used in place of something else? Tell me in the comments, I’d love to know!

Smooches, G x

 

 

currently there's 32 comment(s)

  • Jenny

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 11:40 am

    I love Mountains of Christmas! Was very glad to see I’m not commiting any of these font crimes. Had a close shave with Bradley (fnarr! but went for Tempus Sans ITC instead.

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 10, 2013 at 11:56 am

      Big fan of Mountains of Christmas as well! I love its Harry Potterness :)

  • Leona

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 12:11 pm

    I am so glad that someone shares my deep mistrust of Papyrus. I’ve still got a little love left for Lobster, but I like Sail a lot at the moment. Castro is a nice handwritten font too.

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 10, 2013 at 12:52 pm

      ALL HAIL YOU, AWESOME LEONA, for your equal dislike of Papyrus!

      And I do hear you with the Lobster love, but it’s like a great song you hear on the radio too often. Really like Sail and Castro as well, great choices!

      Oooh, think I’ll have to revisit the fonts again in the future.

      Thanks Leona :)

  • Robin Hallett

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Gemma,

    Totally got my giggle on (once I stopped holding my breath making sure my font wasn’t banned of course). The one that drives me bonkers is Papyrus for sure, seems many many people in the healing field think it’s quite fab.

    So wishing you all the best with your upcoming speaking gig, wooooooot!

    Hugs and love,

    Robin

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 11, 2013 at 10:14 am

      Haha, thanks Robin – I love the fonts on your site. They are totally on brand :)

      And thank you for my well-wishes for my speaking gig – super excited!

      G x

  • Michele

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Argh, I have lobster on my site right now. Thing is, on my little old dell laptop, a lot of the more fancy fonts look weird and bad. Hm. To be continued…

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 11, 2013 at 10:15 am

      Don’t get me wrong – Lobster is a great font, but it’s just used everywhere I look at the moment. If you use Lobster out of every other font crime I’ve mentioned up there, you are way ahead :)

  • Michele

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    Oh and… how do you install these font squirrel fonts on your wordpress site? I’ve had problems figuring this out. Did you cover this in your opt-in course? I’ve only been able to install google fonts.

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 11, 2013 at 10:18 am

      For installing fonts on your website, you need to get a bit nifty with CSS. On the Font Squirrel website there is a WebFont generator – you can see if the FontSquirrel font you choose already has a webfont pack available, otherwise, just upload your chosen font and it will generate a pack with the font files you need to install and the CSS you need to add to your stylesheet!

      If you’re not comfortable with that, stick with Google Fonts!

  • Tammy

    commented on October 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    Funny post, and so painfully true! — I’m a designer without a website, it’s like a being turtle without a shell, my bare ass is hanging out there for everyone to see. I’m hoping some day to work with you to remedy this embarrassing situation. Shared your webdesign site with a group of entrepreneurial-minded women who I thought might benefit from your blog & working with you. Definitely like the ‘straight-talking sass’ in your website & blog posts!

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 11, 2013 at 10:21 am

      Thanks Tammy – ah yes! We’ve all been there! I spent a good couple of months when I started out without a website, and then I started with a basic WordPress template before I got around to creating something else. You’ll get there :)

      And thank you for passing my name around, that really means a lot!

      G x

  • Kerry

    commented on October 11, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    NO NO NO to brush script ever ever ever! Along with Algerian

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on October 14, 2013 at 9:11 am

      AHAHAHAHAHA – OH MY GOD! HOW did I miss Algerian out of this list?! That one is heinous. HEINOUS. And Brush Script – it’s the go-to font for white van men, haha!

      Thanks Kerry :)

  • Helen Lindop

    commented on October 15, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Oh crap I use Bradley Hand AND Lobster. *Blushes in embarrassment* Off to change them now…

    • Helen Lindop

      commented on October 15, 2013 at 8:39 am

      Actually, it’s just Lobster these days. I changed the design of the ebook that had Bradley Hand on it. Phew.

      • Gemma Regalado

        commented on October 15, 2013 at 10:26 am

        Lobster isn’t a bad font – that’s why it’s been so well-used. But it’s just OVER-used and it’s always nice to stand out as unique so that you’re rocking your business with awesome content AND well-thought design. From what I’ve seen, the Lobster on your site is well-designed and complementary to the rest of the page – you haven’t shrouded your website in it.

        Perfect execution, I say Helen! :)

      • Helen Lindop

        commented on October 15, 2013 at 11:35 am

        Thank you! I must admit that my design is temporary. I wasn’t quite sure what angle I was going to take with the site until I put some content out there and saw how people responded. So for that reason I pretty much stuck with the WP theme I was using in terms of design. It will be overhauled before too long. It’s too easy to get into a cycle of tweaking your design and layout when you don’t have an overall marketing strategy in place. I wanted to avoid that trap.

      • Gemma Regalado

        commented on October 15, 2013 at 1:00 pm

        So true, Helen – the “tweak tweak tweak” approach without a direction is a very easy (but fruitless!!) chore to fall into. :)

  • Natalie

    commented on November 1, 2013 at 4:21 pm

    LMAO Yes! yes yes yes! I see this all the time, drives me insane.. When I’m working on a project, takes me like a good hour before I can find the perfect font..

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on November 2, 2013 at 1:29 pm

      Ahhh, a woman after my own heart – I could spend hours looking at typefaces :)

  • Mammasaurus

    commented on November 15, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    YES YES and THRICE YES!

    Oh these need burning, and then sweeping in to a dustpan, and that dustpan needs taking out to sea for the ashes can sink to Davey Jones locker.

    I try and work on the theory that if a font looks like a 3 year old has written it then it’s best avoided ;)

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on November 15, 2013 at 3:05 pm

      Hahaha! YES! Completely agreed :)

  • Philippa

    commented on November 15, 2013 at 12:23 pm

    Glad to see the addition of Papyrus and Curlz to the long-time despised comic sans (which is actually currently undergoing an ironic revival doncha know. Not one I’m participating in, mind)

    What pleases me MOST is the inclusion in this hall of shame of LOBSTER. Get out of my eyes, lobster, NOW. I guess it has become popular as it is available as an easy- switch option on many publishing platforms and free website builders (wix I’m looking at YOU) and is considered by the untrained eye as less horrendous than the other typefaces on offer in those circles.

    I would like to suggest for inclusion the repulsively ubiquitous Coolvetica, whose caps descenders are violating beard lines across the internet. Just when you think you’re reading classic, beautiful Helvetica UH OH there’s an ugly bastardised ‘t’….

    It is within the capabilities of even the most tech-loathing amateur to undertake a bit of googles-how-to exploration and realise that between fontsquirrel and the WP ‘font uploader’ plugin, the world is your font oyster. NOT lobster.

  • Heather Scott

    commented on December 3, 2013 at 10:31 pm

    Great article Gemma, I had never realised there were so many fonts out there, I am a bit like a kid in a sweetie store…

    And as a newbie can I ask for advice – what do you think of swingset bb?

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on December 19, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Oh Heather – this is just the tip of the iceberg – there are SO many fonts out there, you’re going to love it!

      I like the font you mentioned, but obviously it depends where you’re going to use it. It’s a display font, so will look great for headings, and anywhere it’s used where it will be big. It will be practically unreadable as normal body text, however. Make sure you check the license – this one is “free for personal use” and you need to check the designer’s website for the paid license if you plan on using it for your blog or website: http://www.blambot.com/license2.shtml

      Happy font hunting!

      • Heather

        commented on December 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm

        Thank you

  • Swoita

    commented on January 18, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Lobster… fully agreed!

    http://swoita.blogspot.com/2014/01/enough-already.html#gpluscomments

  • Ruth

    commented on April 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Actual A-MA-ZING post!!! You had me wetting myself, just a little bit

  • Ruth

    commented on April 12, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Actual A-MA-ZING post!!! You had me wetting myself, just a little bit

    • Gemma Regalado

      commented on April 15, 2014 at 11:00 am

      Haha, great to hear it, Ruth! :)

  • Erik

    commented on June 6, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I have a client that chose Papyrus for her logo :/ I even told her it was the worlds worst font and sent her several articles that proved my point… Now she has it on her business cards and sign. Do you ditch a client over their bad taste? :)