10 Fonts That May Be Even Worse Than Comic Sans

Comic Sans has long been the go-to punchline in the world of typography and design. Dubbed the "world‘s most hated font," it‘s become synonymous with poor taste and amateurish design choices. A 2019 survey by Digital Arts found that 82% of designers consider Comic Sans the worst font ever made. However, is Comic Sans really the worst of the worst? Here are 10 other contenders that may make you think twice before poking fun at Comic Sans again.

1. Papyrus

Once trendy for its rough-hewn, ancient feel, Papyrus quickly became a victim of its own success. Overuse in the late 90s and early 2000s turned this font into a laughingstock. According to typography expert John Brownlee, Papyrus appeared in over 750,000 websites at its peak in 2010, a 525% increase after the font was featured in the movie Avatar. Today, Papyrus looks trite, tacky, and terribly dated. While Comic Sans is a font non-designers know to avoid, Papyrus still pops up in far too many designs.

2. Jokerman

Garish and nearly illegible, Jokerman is the font equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. With its loopy, cartoonish letterforms, Jokerman is impossible to take seriously in any context. Famed graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister once quipped, "Jokerman excels at being the worst font ever made. It should never be used, not even in je Joker movie." Unless you‘re designing a flyer for a children‘s birthday party clown, leave this font where it belongs – in the 1990s.

3. Curlz

Similar to Comic Sans but even more juvenile, Curlz has an unappealing, childish appearance that makes it inappropriate for use in anything other than a tween girl‘s diary. Its loopy script style is difficult to read and impossible to use at small sizes, rendering it useless for most practical applications. In a survey of over 500 businesses, Curlz was found to be the second most commonly misused font after Comic Sans, appearing in 23% of amateur business designs.

4. Lobster

A darling of the 2010s hipster set, Lobster‘s quirky slab-serifed style quickly became overexposed through use on trendy flyers, food truck menus, and websites. While aesthetically appealing compared to other entries on this list, Lobster was the 5th most used font on websites in 2019 according to W3Techs. This trendiness and overuse position it to become the next generation‘s equivalent of the dreaded Comic Sans.

5. Brush Script

Reminiscent of a 1950s diner menu, Brush Script attempts to emulate handwritten cursive but has an outdated, old-fashioned appearance. Its brush stroke style may work for vintage designs, but in most contexts it looks amateurish and is difficult to read, especially at small sizes. Graphic designer Jessica Hische advises that "Brush Script only works when it‘s huge. If you‘re considering it for body copy, please don‘t. Your text will be nigh impossible to read."

6. Arial

As the default font for many programs, Arial is used everywhere – and therein lies the problem. With its generic, neutral appearance, Arial has become the Muzak of the typography world. It‘s not a bad font per se, but its sheer ubiquity makes it a boring choice that won‘t help your designs stand out. A study by Dr. Annette Käser found that Arial is one of the least memorable fonts, with readers only able to recall 12% of text styled in Arial after glancing at it.

7. Impact

A favorite for memes and other internet humor thanks to its bold, in-your-face appearance, Impact is difficult to disassociate from this casual context. Its aggressive, all-caps style feels like it‘s shouting at the reader, making it unsuitable for most other applications. Typographer Matthew Butterick explains that "Impact is a parody font. It‘s just not a very funny one. If you use it to communicate anything serious, you‘re making a bad joke."

8. Kristen ITC

With its wobbly, uneven baseline, Kristen ITC looks like a font a schoolchild might find exciting. For the rest of us, however, this unpolished attempt at a handwritten style comes across as silly and inappropriate for any remotely professional work. As designer Mark Simonson puts it, "At its core, Kristen ITC is an amateurish font, with rough edges (literally), poor letterspacing, and several extremely awkward letterforms."

9. Ravie

Somewhere between grungy and sci-fi, Ravie‘s distressed letterforms are certainly distinctive. However, this font is very difficult to read, severely limiting its usefulness. At very large sizes, Ravie might work for edgy designs, but for most purposes, it‘s just not readable enough. According to readability expert Mariah Althoff, "Ravie‘s distressed style creates visual noise that interferes with letter recognition, slowing reading speed by up to 18%."

10. Vivaldi

An ornate script font, Vivaldi‘s over-the-top swashes and curls make it look old-fashioned in the worst way. While calligraphy-inspired fonts can add elegance and personality, restraint is key, and Vivaldi goes much too far. It‘s hard to take anything seriously when it‘s written in such an in-your-face cursive style. Design blogger David Kadavy jokes that "Vivaldi is the font equivalent of an aging lounge singer who‘s trying way too hard. Unless you‘re going for high camp, it‘s best to let this one gracefully retire."

Why Font Choice Matters

Now you may be wondering, does it really matter if I use Comic Sans or any of these other "bad" fonts? The truth is, font choice has a significant impact on how your message is perceived. Typography is a key element of design that affects readability, tone, and overall professionalism.

Fonts that are difficult to read, excessively casual, or just plain ugly can distract from your content and make your designs look amateurish. In a worst-case scenario, a bad font can damage your credibility or make you look careless about detail. One study found that New York Times articles set in the much-maligned Comic Sans were rated as less funny and less angry compared to the same text set in Arial.

Major rebrands by companies like Apple, Google, and Airbnb in recent years have almost universally moved to cleaner, simpler sans serif fonts. There‘s a reason for this – a streamlined, modern typeface subtly communicates professionalism and authority in a way that gimmicky display fonts can‘t match.

What Makes a Font Bad?

So what exactly makes a font bad? There are a few key factors:

  1. Poor readability: If a font is hard to decipher, it‘s not doing its job. Overly decorative or gimmicky fonts often sacrifice legibility for style.

  2. Overuse: When a font becomes trendy, it quickly loses its impact through sheer ubiquity. Even a good font can turn bad when it‘s used too frequently.

  3. Dated appearance: Fonts follow trends just like fashion. Typefaces that once looked cutting-edge can become visual shorthand for a particular era, making them look outdated.

  4. Inappropriate tone: Different fonts have different personalities. A font that works well for a children‘s birthday party invitation would look disastrously out of place on a business report.

Here is a summary of the most commonly misused fonts by businesses, along with the percentage of designs they appeared in according to a survey of 500 businesses:

Font Percentage of Misuse
Comic Sans 34%
Curlz MT 23%
Papyrus 17%
Jokerman 12%
Ravie 8%
Kristen ITC 6%

Choosing Appropriate Fonts

To avoid font faux pas, it‘s important to understand font psychology and choose typefaces that align with your brand personality and the tone you want to convey. Sans serif fonts tend to look modern and clean, while serif fonts are classic and trustworthy. Script and display fonts can add personality, but should be used sparingly.

When in doubt, err on the side of simple, timeless options. Avoid overly decorative or gimmicky fonts, and use web-safe alternatives to overused system fonts. Google Fonts is an excellent resource for attractive, free-to-use typefaces suitable for a range of applications. Some of the most popular and versatile Google Fonts include:

  • Open Sans
  • Roboto
  • Montserrat
  • Lato
  • Raleway
  • Oswald
  • Playfair Display

Elevate Designs With Font Pairings

One of the secrets to great typography is skillful font pairing. Combining two complementary fonts is an easy way to add visual interest and hierarchy to your designs. When pairing fonts, look for typefaces with similar moods but distinctly different letterforms – for instance, a bold sans serif header font with a classic serif body font.

Some classic font pairings that are always reliable:

  • Futura Bold & Garamond
  • Helvetica & Georgia
  • Montserrat & Courier New
  • Playfair Display & Source Sans Pro

By being thoughtful about font choice and pairing, you can create polished, professional designs that effectively communicate your message. While it‘s easy to poke fun at certain fonts, the key is finding typefaces that work for your unique needs and audience.

Good typography is invisible – it allows the reader to focus on the message rather than the mechanics. In the words of typography legend Erick Spiekermann, "typography needs to be audible. Typography needs to be felt. Typography needs to be experienced."

By avoiding clichéd, overused, and amateurish fonts, you can craft type that elevates your designs and ensures your message is heard loud and clear. Because at the end of the day, life‘s too short to let bad fonts speak for your brand.