What are the worst typefaces of all time?

hanabot's picture

im doing a typography project, and i wanted to know what are the worst typefaces the earth has ever seen, if you can give me a list of the worst typefaces you have ever seen, that would be great.

Nick Shinn's picture

I hope it made you wealthy Vince, for all the abuse you suffer for it!

Bendy's picture

Isn't it rather that Papyrus is usually poorly chosen rather than being a badly-designed font? I'm surprised nobody has mentioned American Uncial which seems to suffer from both these problems.
Black Chancery has never made sense to me.

satya's picture


HaleyFiege's picture

Arial is the perfect web font for squishing massive amounts of legal copy into small spaces. I don't care how badly it was designed, it keeps the legal department off my back, so thank you Arial designers. I salute you!

Stephen Coles's picture

If comic sans was shite it would not be seen, remembered or mentioned here. You would forget it. But you can’t so, it rules.

Vince - I'm surprised that you are still trying to make the case that your typeface is popular due to its design. Comic Sans doesn't deserve all the ribbing it gets, but the cold harsh truth is: if Comic Sans wasn't bundled with Windows we wouldn't be talking about it and I doubt anyone would be using it.

Dan Gayle's picture

+1 for Vince.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

Hah, Papyrus has been elevated to extreme hights, considering its use by BBC's Newsnight:

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

blank's picture

Wow...that may be the most inappropriate use of Papyrus, ever.

Does anybody else think that designers would be a lot better at picking fonts if design schools barred the use of any font that ships with a computer’s OS or Adobe Creative Suite? Then again, that might just lead all the people who use Futura for everything to start getting all of their fonts from DaFont.

Nick Shinn's picture

if Comic Sans wasn’t bundled with Windows we wouldn’t be talking about it and I doubt anyone would be using it.

But just suppose, what would they be using instead?

satya's picture

There are lot many folks out there using Comic Sans for the programming too. May be cause happy code generally has fewer bugs ;-)

vanina's picture

Speaking of terrible typefaces, when I got a G5 last year, I went through the Fonts folder and took out all that hideous stuff, type I'd never use and all the Chinese characters that for some reason I'm forced to always have there... Lo and behold, the computer would not start up. I had to have it repaired, and the technician wagged a finger at me and told me to leave the default font set alone. I learned my lesson.

David Rault's picture

Hey Vince, (if it's actually you),

1. Comic Sans doesn't rule. Comis Sans sucks. Big time. The real Vincent Connare knows enough about type to know that's the truth. It is successful for 2 very basic reasons: it was, as mentionned above, bundled with Windows; and 95% of the computer users in the whole world have a total lack of good taste, not only computer or font related but in general. Good taste comes with education and some given skills or hunger for artistic / aesthetic self improvement, which most of the world is lacking, that's a pity but that's the truth. Most of these people are very nice, very sweet, totally harmless and inoffensive, my own sister prints her reports in Comic Sans. She also wears clothes which make my eyes bleed.

2. I know your surname is not french, I was making a joke, and you are pretty rude out there, you actually deserve your name. Next time you visit france or quebec, make sure to spell your celtic god name out loud, the result will make my revenge.

p.s. anyone who creates a type in a vague comic book style and gives it out with windows will blow your rates away and send you back to oblivion, my friend. check the faces at blambot.com: they are in the same spirit with comic sans, though 100 times better. If you had designed these ones, the whole world would feel better. you once said that comic sans was never designed to make it on windows and be spread that much, and you felt sorry for that. at that time, i liked you. now you are very proud to state that mister everyone is picking your font over the other ones, which makes your design awesome. I don't hate you... no, I just have some pity.

But anyway, you are not him, right?, I mean, the real vince connare would not be that much rudely childish, right?


russellm's picture

no one has mentioned it yet, but.... Jokerman. (There! Our work here is done.)


Si_Daniels's picture

>Comis Sans sucks. Big time.

David, perhaps you can point us to some of your work so we can critique it too.

David Rault's picture


of course, even though these works are quite old now for i dont have time to update my web, you can go and take a look at www.davidrault.com. keep 2 things in mind though: i am not a typographer, so you wont find any typefaces there (so far), and my harsh comment on comic sans was also fueled by what vince told me in the previous post, which litterally means "go f*** yourself" in english. otherwise i'd be bad, but not that bad. but the hell with it, comic sans sucks, i can say it in any language if you want, if i can't say what i think here, i can say it nowhere. try not to take it personally every time someone says something bad about microsoft related things.

this being said, feel free to criticize anything you see. too bad i can not post my latest and nicest jobs, for these are packaging jobs and as long as the customer didnt give it a go and the didnt hit the shelves, i cant put them online... i will try to put some, though, to actually get some critics. some of my stuff suck big time too, i know it, i'm not an artist, i have to please some stupid customers.


Dan Gayle's picture

David R:
You don't get it, do you? This entire thread has been repeated over and over and over again for the past decade, whether here on Typophile or otherwise. Vince has been defending his tiny little font for years.

No wonder he's got a little vitriol in him, because people constantly rag on his little typeface that just so happened to be in the right place at the right time.

loremipsum's picture

This whole Comic Sans case, discussion and points of view of parties involved has some similarity with a scenario when a family finds out that some years ago their brother-in-law was an actor in a poor erotic movie which the distribution company unexpectedly made widespread available and which then became surprisingly popular with the mainstream audience...

dberlow's picture

I find it most interesting that the most vilified fonts fall into the categories of rip-offs, and "write-offs." Enough about rip-offs, and inappropriate use aside, what make Mistral, Comic Sans, Sand and Papyrus so hateful, even to ones who like all fonts, is that we don't like to them scaleable. It disturbs me to try and make a written font for more than a single size, so I'm guessing that it disturbs us when a single outline is used to represent what we expect to be a range of proportions and a variety of edge qualities. Digital outlines at their worst, bringing out the worst in typophiles, I'd say.


Mark Simonson's picture

I have a theory about all this: Some typefaces are novice magnets.

To the average person, most fonts look more or less the same. But, if a typeface has a strong flavor, it calls attention to itself. It's easy to recognize and makes people feel like they know something about fonts when they recognize it. And it looks "special" compared to normal (i.e., boring) fonts, so using it makes their documents look "special."

To the experienced designer, such typefaces have too much flavor, call too much attention to themselves, not to mention the fact that often carry the baggage of being associated with amateur design.

Stephen Coles's picture

Well said, Mark. That is definitely a factor. That and the name -- the font menu is often the first a novice's first introduction to a typeface, so the name leaves a big impression.

blank's picture

Mark, I agree, but I think that for some people it’s also force of habit. For a long time Arial and Times New Roman were the only decent fonts many people had on their desktop machines, so we just got used to them. Over time better fonts have been phased in, but nobody is telling people “stop using crap fonts and start using Palatino!” Maybe Simon could subtly trick people into using better fonts by getting Microsoft to push all those great new fonts as a selling point for Vista and Office 2007.

eliason's picture

That and the name — the font menu is often the first a novice’s first introduction to a typeface, so the name leaves a big impression.

Even the letter it starts with. I would hypothesize that in the infinite parallel universes that have word processing programs with alphabetically arranged font menus, the first font with "flavor" in the list is always overused by novices and disdained by typophiles.

Alessandro Segalini's picture

I like Simonson's "novice magnets" theory, it was true for me (and still it is sometimes).
This thread is so long that I cannot see Super Duty anymore.

dezcom's picture

I think I will put some Novice Magnets on my refrigerator:-)


ryanholmes's picture

I just finished a project where the customer demands the proposal be submitted "in 12 point standard Times New Roman, double-spaced, with wide margins. The occasional use of Arial for highlighting is acceptable."

I hate these things on so many levels it defies description. From brute force trauma, I hate Times New Roman and Arial.

loremipsum's picture

About 10 years ago, T602 was still a very popular text editor in Czech Republic and Slovakia. You would love even Arial if you would see a myriad of business documents set in Avant Garde which was the default font in Windows version of that software (and the first in its list of fonts).

Nick Shinn's picture

David, what you say about scalability may also apply to Arial.
It seems to be the details that people object to, which aren't really apparent at text size.

Times, however, although a single master, is the most serviceable of "web" serif faces at larger sizes, as the sharp serifs do give it some measure of finesse.

Dan Gayle's picture

You like it over Georgia? How can anyone like anything over Georgia for the web?

Nick Shinn's picture

Don't you find Georgia a bit clunky at headline size?
It's OK if you want a robust effect, but really, Miller Display is the "big" version of this design.

elizabeth_355's picture

I like the use of Comic Sans in the Windows version of "The Sims" ... fits the mood very well.

James Clough's picture

Recently I came across a site on Gutenberg in Comic sans. But will you all excuse me if I waffle on a bit about a typeface alluded to earlier in this discussion? Is that allowed?

On page 1 it was nice to see someone speak up for Excoffon's masterpiece Mistral. Good for you Mr Small caps (or Ms small caps if you are a woman... personally I hate the 'politically correct' Ms, but I'm not a woman...). Excoffon designed this type for the Olive foundry's clients who were mostly small letterpress printers in France and francophone countries still setting type by hand. He certainly didn't design Mistral for graphic designers (who were fairly thin on the ground in Europe in the fifties). In fact Mistral has always been a favouite of 'popular graphics'. Serious graphic designers wouldn't touch it with a barge pole. Nevertheless, even us sophisticated designers should be able to appreciate that much type which dwells firmly within popular graphics is worthy of our appreciation (and perhaps devotion) even though we would never use it. Look at Novarese's superb STOP. I have an archive of about a 150 photos of signs, logos and whatnot in STOP (not to mention Mistral). But let's get back to Mistral again for a moment. John Dreyfus wrote a highly appreciative piece on Mistral in the Penrose annual of 1956. For many years it was the only face available that gave a convincing idea of quickly written spontaneous handwriting. Obviously Mistral no longer represents the handwriting of today but it is still the most popular of all the 'handwriting' typefaces or, to use a more colourful expression, 'shopping list' typefaces that have sprung up since the digital revolution: I mean faces that don't show off a calligrapher's handwriting, but are able to give an impression of decent handwriting of the sort we might do for a shopping list. But Mistral is far more than just a decent imitation of handwriting. In the game of bluff and deception that is implicit in all 'shopping list' faces, Excoffon plays a masterful hand. Of course... designers might prefer real handwriting to fake handwriting but that's another story.

The version of Mistral that was (or maybe still is) installed in Bill Gates' systems is a real abomination and a horrid travesty of Excoffon's work. ITC put out a light version of Mistral designed by Phil Grimshaw in 1997 (complete with small caps and stacks of ligs). This was another masterpiece and a very fitting tribute to Excoffon. But it seems to have been a commercial fiasco probably because popular graphics is — quite understandably — not interested in paying for fonts.

Small caps admires the colourful brochure for Mistral, and so do I. Excoffon himself designed other beautiful handouts for his faces. And this is another point worth emphasizing. Don't you all think that it is time for an exhibition of typefounders advertisments? There's much more to be said of Mistral (and of course of its designer too), but I'll stop here to avoid an impulse to write a whole article.

I'll finish up by returning to the original subject of this discussion 'The worst typefaces'. Someone mentioned ROTIS and I thoroughly agree. Why is ROTIS such an awful face? Because it is a hybrid. Upstairs it tries to be 19th century and downstairs it's Renaissance. I can't stand it.

Sorry for being so long winded and I apologise for having written too much about one of my favourites rather than the contrary.

dan_reynolds's picture


Spatium Magazine and the TYPOSITION. studio from Offenbach Germany organized an exhibition of type specimens from the last 100 years just earlier this year. It was shown at both German National Libraries—first in Frankfurt am Main, then in Leipzig—and was very beautiful.

James Clough's picture

Thanks Dan for this useful piece of information, although it is sad to be reminded of how badly informed I often seem to be. Presuming you have a copy of the catalogue, is there any e-mail or other kind of address I can contact for a copy?

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Regarding being informed, James, if you & the folks happen to organize something like that in Milan, please let me know, I'll try to bring my students & I there, thanks very much.

Alessandro Segalini's picture

p.s. Just saw the new sponsored font, I fell from the chair.

James Clough's picture

Caro Alessandro.

Nice to hear from you! Three weeks ago we had a Sunday morning 'BICICLETTERING' in Milan. About thirty type and lettering maniacs on their bikes looking at Roman, medieval and Renaissance inscriptions, Cresci's inscription on the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, plus 19th and 20th century inscriptions and shop signs. Next time I hope you'll be with us.

Alessandro Segalini's picture

Thanks, James, nice to hear from you, too.
That "Biciclettering" sounds socially terrific, I didn't know about that at all.
Do you have any pictures posted ?

Gräfenberg's picture

In the Serious Font category Gill Sans is pretty bad, with what I consider to be some major faux pas throughout.

But just recently I came across some of Neville Brody's work that I've never seen before (lucky me!) I'm almost at a loss for words about how truly horrid I think Autotrace, Meta Subnormal, Dirty One and Dirty Four are, regardless of any deconstructivist motivation (?) behind their design.

Jackie Frant's picture

To Satya,

Excuse me - how could you put BASE 02 on this list? It is a easy-to-read grunge face - that was extremely popular and most people never paid a cent to the creator for using it -- including HOLLYWOOD.

And Gräfenberg, I am not a fan of Gill Sans, but as a former typesetter learned a long time ago that every font (yes even Comic Book Sans) has a place - and that somewhere there is a perfect job for it. I happened to have been given a business card recently, and it was a delight to see -- and then I realized the face I was looking at was Gill Sans Italic. Perhaps since no one I know has used it since 1992 -- it was just a pleasure to see.

nycla3's picture

Helveeta...the processed cheese-food of typefaces.;-)

Gräfenberg's picture

Jackie, I wasn't the one to bring up Gill Sans; just agreeing with a previous poster.

But let's face it (groan, sorry for the pun) there are some pretty ugly glyphs in it - worst being the a - and its irregularity I find grating*.

I didn't in any way mean to imply that it can't look OK:
BBC logo
Penguin and Pelican covers
Wikimedia Foundation logo

Lots of ‘ugly’ fonts can be used with skill. Doesn't stop them from being ugly in themselves :-)

*Compare it to Granby for example, much more successful as a design overall IMHO.

russellm's picture

As long as this thread isn't disappearing...

I had almost managed to forget about the Waldorf fonts until I was reminded by a thread on the Type ID Board.

(thanks Mark!)

Yes - They do use that stuff with a straight face.


Mark Simonson's picture

Russell, you've got a typo in your link code: Should be "href" not "haref".

Mark Simonson's picture

... and I agree with your opinion about Waldorf fonts. I designed a special section of a magazine a few years ago about Rudolf Steiner. I had never heard of this style of font before and couldn't believe people used them with a straight face. It would probably work for The Flintstones, though.

alexfjelldal's picture

Conduit! aaargh! It's not funny, it's not clever, it's just u.g.l.y!
Bison Design

lunyboy's picture

I am sorry to disagree with Mark, even a year later, but the Waldorf typeface would be great with a woodcut design. It is reminiscent of a Jugend cover or a magazine in that style from a century ago. Perhaps not with the outline version or the "quark" shadow, which are awful.

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