What ONE typeface would you have rather not exist?

Dan Gayle's picture

I asked this question to James Grieshaber, Kent Lew, and Stephen Coles with various results, but if there were ONE typeface on the face of the earth that you'd rather never see again, what would it be, and why?

(If you list P*pyr*s, C*mic S*ns, or any other typeface that could be found on 2002 Free Fonts, you're not trying hard enough.)

So here's mine:

ITC Souvenir (Particularly the bastard mono.)

This typeface is so ugly, yet it's everywhere. The roundness doesn't come across as round, it comes across as soft. And in that not-good soft way. Although designed by Morris Fuller Benton in the 10s, it's too 70s, in the bad feathered hair and brown tinted eyeglasses way. I would rather live in a world where Souvenir does not exist.

Your turn.

.00's picture

Oh stop it. This is the biggest waste of band width in the world.

Get over it.

Dan Gayle's picture

Hey, I'm at work and I am bored. So talk to someone who cares.

fontplayer's picture

Because it was abused so much in my workplace, I have to go with Algerian. It was bad enough seeing the all caps font used in all the signs around the building, like: YOUR MOTHER DOESN'T WORK HERE, SO CLEAN UP AFTER YOURSELF."

But then I had to sit through an hour-long technical presentation, with all the titles set in Algerian. And the worst part was they has set the tracking so that all the letters overlapped, and were on the verge of unintelligibility. AAARRGGH! (the horror!)

Linda Cunningham's picture

Benguiat, with Algerian a very close second. Here, they suffer from as much inappropriate use as Comic Sans and Papyrus.


Mark Simonson's picture

I would tend to agree with James about this topic, and I have a soft spot for "bad" typefaces like Souvenir, but there is one popular free font that never fails to make me a bit nauseous when I see it: Black Chancery.

Si_Daniels's picture

Avenir (long story)

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Dan, Just One???

Sorry, I'm filled with too much hate to be limited by just one. Here's to streetwalkers and health code violations:

Culrz- This preferred choice of the American dingbat pre-adolescent peroxide blonde gloss junkie is imprinted all over pink homework folders and sparkly snug-fitting phase tees- "I'm in love with what's his face".

Horriable Harrington- this barber will cut your hair for $5.

Running that late night pizza joint with floors stickier than a booger in a jar of honey?- This ones for you.

Mistral- The 'fluid' script gracing the worlds adult entertainment products.

Dan's favorite beeocth

Nasty Nasty Abadai- ugly on all counts!!!

blank's picture

Arial. Not because I dislike it, but because I’m sick of hearing type nerds complain about it. It’s been sucking for twenty-five years folks, get over it!

William Berkson's picture

Superultra, that's not Souvenir, but some bizzare thing called 'Souvenir Mono.' Souvenir is well drawn, and that's not.

jlt's picture

SuperUltraFabulous, that's not "Cultz," but rather Curlz, by our dear friend Carl Crossgrove.

edited 08.23.07: I see you've altered the spelling of the type in order to correct it, but it's still not right. It's not "Culrz," but "Curlz."

Relatedly - a "feature" of the current Typophile that I HATEHATEHATE:

Originally, SUF's post preceded mine, and ostensibly mine was a response to his. But because he later edited his post, it was pushed down below mine. This kind of thing really screws up the chronology of a discussion. I can see adding an "edited xx.xx.xx xx:xx" notation, but changing the original date and time of the post when edits are often very small? That's not helpful.


Zara: good idea - I'll start after this one.

Carl: I'm sorry. I'll buy you a drink. But you've done such a good job that it more than makes up for Curlz - whether you built 11 glyphs or the whole thing.


jlt : http://www.hewnandhammered.com

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Hi William... You are right. Dan hates the mono version of the typeface. I posted it just for him loathe.

SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Hi there:

Thank for giving me the correct spelling. The edit changed the order of the my post- weird. Mr. Crossgrove is not my dear friend but I'm sure he's a fabulous loving man and should be beatified on the double but Culrz = Hulrz.

Mikey :o)

Zennie's picture


SuperUltraFabulous's picture

Ravie... but its so cute... :-(

Since I'm so equal opportunity:

Mikey :-)

Dan Gayle's picture

Yeah, the Mono Souvenir-like thing is horrendously bad, but I hate even the regular face. It's just so weak and flaccid.

rondomingue's picture

Comic sans and Brush Script is too obvious to hate on… can't stand Mistral.

I've been very guilty of using Benguiat and Curlz in a professional application. Although I can say I wanted to use Benguiat for an Art Nouveau poster so it was sort of the correct application, I guess the same can be said about Harrington. There was no excuse for using Curlz though.

aluminum's picture


Mainly because it'd force me to at least TRY and use a different typeface once in a while (Damn you handy Futura!)

Artform's picture

Comic sans and Brush Script is too obvious to hate on… can’t stand Mistral.

I second that. Times New Roman is a font that bugs me quite a bit. I think it's because of how often it is the default. I guess it's just played out.
Focus beyond the dot of the i.

fontplayer's picture


I guess you are saying you'd like to ban all poorly made fonts with this odd blanket statement? Or is it the free part that bothers you?

They are certainly better than many of the alternatives. That they are often recommended here says a lot. Some freeware sites are often understandably deleted by the moderators because they have commercial fonts.

If you look, you can also find some fun nuggets there.

Rob O. Font's picture

"...if there were ONE typeface on the face of the earth that you’d rather never see again..."
That would have to be the ONE I'm finishing up, at any given moment. ;-)

Geoff Riding's picture

fontplayer, re. dafont.com, that was a ??bad?? joke, but frankly I think 99.9% of fonts on the site are either poorly executed or knock offs. I am all for quality free fonts but I barely use them at all. 99.9% of the typefaces I use for work are licenced fonts.

My real response to the question asked in this thread is akin to James' and Mark's.

fontplayer's picture

I am all for quality free fonts but I barely use them at all. 99.9% of the typefaces I use for work are licenced fonts.

That is understandable if you are "in the biz". For those of us not charging their purchases off to a customer, Dafont kinda rocks.

And they are pretty good about protecting you guys.

As an aside, the whole knock-off argument seems pretty well shot down by companies like Adobe and Microsoft, I am am following the common reasoning in another thread (something about "Bloody rip-offs")

Dan Gayle's picture

Now, now boys. Focus! I'm talking real commercial fonts that some foundry like ITC has the gall to spread around the world like a plague.

If you ignore the free junk and anything bundled with an OS, what are you left with?

fontplayer's picture


I guess I should be embarrassed to say that when I saw that for the first time, I thought it was the coolest font ever.
; )

Another nominee might be Hobo.

KenBessie's picture

Bad type ain't the problem. People who use type badly is the problem.

It's like fashion. I don't blame bell bottoms for the sixties. And I don't blame Souvenir for the seventies. But somebody wearing bell bottoms in 2007, or using Souvenir in 2007, had better be going to a retro party!

Admittedly some fonts have a quality that makes them appropriate over a large spectrum of projects. And some fonts are so well crafted that a person has got to be inept to set them badly. But most fonts suffer because of lazy or indifferent type specification.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Once upon a time, about 8 years ago I had the pleasure of hearing a lecture given by Gerard Unger on the mid-century (last) typefaces from France. Before this lecture I hated Mistral (and many fonts from the late, great Excoffon). This hate was tied to a having to do DTP (as it was then called) with so few fonts available to me in the late 80s and early 90s. Silly and childish. Gerard's rich and detailed stories of driving through the French country side and visiting towns with traces of the old signage and even stories from his own youth mesmerized me.

As it happened I was going to France for the first time only a short while later. I never thought I'd visit France, Paris seemed but a dream. I was in a frenzy of anticipation. He had opened my eyes to why the designs were originally created and I wanted to see them for myself.

Now one of my favorite time periods in the history of the poster is Mid-century France. (Well, in fact, I have a huge bias now toward anything French.)

The lesson to be learned: Before you go hating a typeface learn the history and the context.

There are no bad typefaces, only poorly used typefaces.

Geoff Riding's picture

Well, I just think this question is absurd if you're taking it seriously. If you're just asking it for a bit of fun, fair enough.

Like all design, typefaces is a creative byproduct of time, coming into fashion and out into oblivion and, often, return with a vengeance. Helvetica was all the rage, so was Avant Garde and it's over abused alternates, guilty here, Souvenir not quite but who knows in 2030. Exist is a strong word to use (taken seriously), you might have asked which typeface one wished weren't so ubiquitous today? Oops, guess we all know that one, Helvetica, oops maybe Arial.


Geoff Riding's picture

Oh, beaten! Tiffany communicates across the point I was trying to make far more eloquently. :^)

pattyfab's picture

But there are some fonts for which there is simply no excuse. Even tho I agree that threads like this are a waste of time, I've obviously read this one.

A restaurant in my neighborhood is using Mistral (which I hate) letterspaced to within an inch of its life. I have to shield my eyes every time I pass the sign.

I'm gonna make you all suffer with me... here's my recreation of the sign (couldn't fit in the 't'). I think the actual sign is even more tracked out than my sample. Looks like little poops all spread out in a row.

fontplayer's picture

I just took a look at Souvenir, and have to say I'd take it (especially the light & light italic versions) over Hobo, Mistral, Algerian, & Ravie any day.


KenBessie's picture

Patty, you can't blame Mistral for that. You gotta blame the goofball that decided to use Mistral for the restaurant and then tracked it out to incomprehension. Don't blame the typeface for bad design.

Miss Tiffany's picture

I should edit my post but don't want the entry time to change:

I meant to add something about history of French graphic design and not only the poster, but it just so happens that I particularly love signage and poster art from France from the time period.

pattyfab's picture

Agreed, Ken. But I've never liked Mistral even when used properly.

It doesn't help that - as pointed out above - it's been co-opted by the "gentleman's" club industry.

Nick Cooke's picture

Nobody's mentioned University Roman? Used for supposedly 'classy' jobs.

Nick Cooke

pattyfab's picture

In general I can ignore - or even laugh at - a poorly-designed ugly weirdo font that you only encounter occasionally.

I'd rather never see Dax again but then my UPS packages wouldn't get to me.

And Nick - YES, I thought of University Roman too! Meant to mention it, actually, but got side-tracked.

In the 90s I'd have liked to have done away with Matrix but it seems to have crawled back under its rock.

mr's picture

Urgh... University Roman. The funny thing is, I've been seeing this everywhere recently, and thinking how horrible it is, but I didn't know what it was called until I was prompted by this thread to take a look at it.

Sam M's picture

I think Bank Gothic is one that I could do without. Its one of those fonts that is pretty neat by itself, but looks really silly in almost any application.

russellm's picture

Name a bad knock-off of Helvetica - Sorry, Akzidenz Grotesk and let that be it.

oh yeah... And Tiresias. (combined they'd just barely count as one, right?)

HaleyFiege's picture

Yeah University Roman is so horrible.

And (even though it's a well designed font) I think the world could do without Mason, the official font of teenage goth myspace users.

mili's picture

Ah, University Roman! Didn't actually identify it when taking this photo. The reason for taking the photo was the strange mixture of the type of business (grills and such out of wire) and font.

fontplayer's picture

I think the world could do without Mason, the official font of teenage goth myspace users.

: )
At least that is easily avoided.

James Grieshaber's picture

I agree with Tiffany comments, context redeems what may seem ugly to the uneducated eye. That is not to say one has to like a particular font or that it is even appropriate to use today.

"There are no bad typefaces, only poorly used typefaces."

Agreed, for the most part... but there is still Black Chancery, which I thought was horrible when I first saw it as a student in the late '80s.

Are you happy now, Dan? You made me say it... my vote is for Black Chancery.

Mark Simonson's picture

I did a little digging... Black Chancery was based on an older bitmap font and was digitized in 1991 by none other than Earl Allen, one of the programmers responsible for Fontographer. Now that I think of it, I believe it may have been one of the sample fonts included with Fontographer.

antiuser's picture

I'd have to say Rotis. Wouldn't miss it one bit...

pattyfab's picture

I'm with ya there, not a fan of Rotis. The Met is using it for their adverts for a show on Egyptian art. Go figure.

crossgrove's picture

I ignored this thread because I wasn't bored enough. If I had to reply, my answer would be the same as Mark Simonsons! That "font" is so execrable It makes me angry. It's obviously free; who would buy such a thing?

Recently I saw a headline in Souvenir caps and had to remark sadly that it was well-drawn. Compared to a lot of the homemade stuff on myfonts, etc. now, Souvenir is actually well-crafted. Isn't that sad?

JLT: Thanks so much, PAL, for harping on my marginal involvement with Curlz. Let's get the record straight: When I was still working in print production, just out of school, Steve Matteson would give me small custom type jobs for Monotype. One of them was finishing the character set of Curlz. I probably actually drew 11 of the alphabetic characters and filled out the punctuation. In other words, Steve Matteson is the designer of Curlz. I was a production monkey who finished it, much like my role with Woodtype 3. Not the originator, the slavey.

One way for type designers to get experience is to finish the work others start. Matching someone else's style is good exercise. In fact, that's how new designs come about like Leslie Cabarga's new Casey, and Mark's new Kinescope. They start with example art and fill out the missing pieces. Great skill to have. In the case of Curlz, I never thought it would haunt me all my damn days. What did I do, God? Why am I being punished?...

I'll get you Josh, when you least expect it. >:(

crossgrove's picture


You appear to have found a unique sample of Souvenir Monospaced. Weird! It does look worse than the original.

smugairle's picture

there's nothing wrong with da-font, it's a good place to start and for random inspiration it has sorted me out in the past nicely, just to take this in a different direction: i'd love to see a world without helvetica... now that would be interesting...

(it's nice enough but a bit... meh!)

Zara Evens's picture

Oh stop it. This is the biggest waste of band width in the world. Get over it.

Though I agree this topic isn't as exhilarating as other threads, it is exactly this kind of remark that scares people away from participating in potentially interesting conversations. Obviously, plenty of people are partaking and enjoying themselves.

Please be nice.

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