Design Tip of the Day: 5 Fonts To Stop Using Immediately


After reading “Fonts To Avoid” by Rudolph Musngi last night, and after seeing a few particularly hideous ESL assignment sheets in our office copy room this afternoon, I was inspired to create my own font “no no” list.  You should stop using these fonts immediately.


Comic Sans is a font everybody loves to hate.  There’s even a website called “Comic Sans Criminal” with a mission to cure the world of inappropriate Comic Sans usage.  I must admit, I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about when I first heard snobby designers talk bad about it.  Then, I opened my eyes to the reality of Comic Sans and my long history with the font.

My mother has used it since the early 1990s for her classroom lessons, and she is a high school foreign language teacher.  At work, I’ve seen it posted on refrigerator doors asking co-workers not to eat labeled food inside and taped near sinks explaining, “Your mother isn’t here.  Do your own dishes.”  Most recently, this very afternoon, instructors in the ESL department at my university used Comic Sans on their own handouts.  Overused and seen in just about every single setting from college handouts to the sides of ambulances, Comic Sans Criminal explains that the font is juvenile and should be relegated to elementary school or to comic books.  As my colleague Chiara Ojeda says, Comic Sans belongs on a lemonade stand.


Like Comic Sans, Papyrus is overused.  Like Comic Sans, Papyrus has a website.  Called “Papyrus Watch,” the site shows examples of Papyrus all over the place – from a restaurant sign to a CAPTCHA.  The website’s author asks for users to send in sightings of the overused font and explains that Papyrus was great for a 5th grade paper about Egypt.  The truth is, Papyrus is tacky.  Just ask designer Mat Carpenter whose friend Tweeted this quote:

“Kitschy, cheap and vile, Papyrus has no place in your designs.” thanks for the laugh @matcarpenter #wisdom


Curlz was my favorite font when I was 13 years old.  Keep in mind that I was one of the the most feminine, girly children in all of the land.  And that’s where Curlz should stay – on signs for Barbie’s Dream House and on fourth grade princess-themed birthday party invitations.

“Worst Fonts Ever” says of Curlz: “The only time you should ever print something in Curlz is if you’re making invitations for a 6-year-old girl’s birthday party—and even then, you owe it to that little girl to use a more creative font.  Curlz gives decorative fonts a terrible reputation with its overly-whimsical, overly-saccharine curlicues, which are very problematic for imprint methods that can’t handle fine detail. Worst of all, Curlz has an association with immaturity, and it can give off an impression of cheap gaudiness” (Source).


Oh, you are soooooooo clever.  You opened the “Blackboard” template and you had the genius idea to put all of your text in Chalkduster.  No one has EVER thought of that before…



I know, I know.  Garr Reynolds uses Gill Sans.  He is the king of presentation design and, in fact, the person who introduced me to the world of effective slide design.  How can this be a no-no font?

Consider this.  When you open “Keynote” and click to add a new text box, the standard font used is Gill Sans.  I tell my students that this is the most off-limits font of them all because it tells me that you literally put zero thought into your typeface selection.  At least SOME thought, however misguided, had to happen for a person to settle on Papyrus or Curlz… No thoughts occur for Keynote users who add text boxes.  Come on, y’all.  Scroll up or down your font book a notch or two.  Other great “G” fonts await you.

Do you hate a specific font?  What overused, hideous typeface would you add to this list?  Why?


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