A Guide to the Most Loved and Hated Fonts

The type used to communicate a message is every bit as important as the language used to do it. Different typefaces, or, in this digital age, fonts, signify different levels of sincerity, whimsy, or authority. Some fonts automatically feel more official, while others cannot help but feel like fun. Some are easier to read while others are more of a struggle for the eye. Is there a computer-using, high school or college student who hasn’t played with different fonts and font sizes to try and extend a paper that is running a bit short of a required page length? Ultimately some fonts wind up being consistently more popular across discipline, user population, and purpose. The following is a guide to the top five best-loved fonts and top five most hated.

Most Loved Fonts

Helvetica

Helvetica was created in the late 1950’s by two Swiss designers looking to create a sans-serif typeface. Sans-serif is a design term, which indicates the lack of the projecting flourishes at the termination points of letters. To many readers this gives Helvetica and other san-serif fonts a cleaner, more modern look that is easier to read. Sans-serif texts are commonly used for online reading because they are easier for the eye to trace in a slightly flickering, digital interface. Since its creation, Helvetica has become the most commonly used font in the world, especially for official printing like municipal signs and notices. It may also be the only font to boast its own Documentary, a 2007 film called, what else, Helvetica.

Helvetica

Garamond

Garamond is a serif font named after a typeface that dates to the Renaissance. It owes its name to its creator Claude Garamond. Like Helvetica, the font is easy on the eyes, with the addition of the slight bit of poetry that a serif adds to the letters. Garamond is more commonly used offline and is considered a “green” font because printing in this font uses less ink.

Garamond


Frutiger

Frutiger is a font originally developed in the late 1960’s sans-serif. However it has since developed a serif counterpart. It is one of a multitude of fonts created by Swiss designer Adrian Frutiger, and the font has added many updated versions to its family since then including special licensed versions to Microsoft. Originally created as a typeface for Charles De Gaulle Airport, the appearance is clean and modern, readable without feeling stark and cold. It is popular for advertising because it is legible while still feeling “friendly.”

Frutiger

Bodoni

Bodoni is another serif font created by an Italian designer in the 18th century. It will be recognizable to almost any reader as the font relied upon most frequently for the “classic look.” It is characterized by alternating thick and thin lines within a single letter that give it dimension and interest and evoke the typefaces of 18th and 19th century books and documents.

Bodoni’s popularity suffers a bit from legibility issues on the computer screen. The varying thicknesses of the letter strokes can make the words seem to dance in front of the reader’s eyes after a while. This font may not fare as well for digital publication duty as it does for print jobs requiring a more refined appearance- invitations, announcements, even literature.

Bodoni

Futura

Futura is a sans-serif font whose origins date to the 1920’s. The font appears to embody the modern ideals and aesthetics, simplicity and mechanistic qualities so popular during that era. As its name suggests, Futura has a futuristic appearance in which nothing is perfectly round, everything is sleek and minimal and almost seems aerodynamic, built for a rocket age. It is used widely in advertising and print to convey a sense of efficiency and progress in a way that the extra strokes of a serif font or the bolder lines of other sans-serif fonts do not.

Futura

Most Hated Fonts

Impact

Impact Designed in 1965 by Geoffrey Lee, Impact is easy to read and grabs attention. But that is where the good qualities end. As a headline or logo font, it is too thin and amateurish to be taken seriously by professional designers. It is most commonly used on documents that have been designed by people who don’t know what they are doing when it comes to typefaces, and as such, it should be avoided.

Impact

2012 Headline

2012 Headline is perhaps better known as the London Olympic font. Like the Olympic logo, the font seems to try to reference 1980s graffiti, mixed with a little Grecian stylisation. The problem is that it is trying so hard to be cool, but like a dad it simply isn’t. It also has a perfectly round O, which is jarring to the reader. Luckily, it will probably fall out of use once the Olympic Games are over.

Headline

Souvenir

Souvenir was developed in 1914 by influential American typeface designer Morris Fuller Benton. It really came to the forefront in the 1970s, appearing on Bee Gees album covers and advertisements. When punk came along, it made things like the fluffy design of the font look outdated, silly and foolish. It is having an ironic retro resurgence, though, as designers are now drawn to its soft yet graphic look.

Souvenir

Comic Sans

Comic Sans was designed by Vincent Connare and released in 1994 by Microsoft. It was designed based on the letter styling of comic books, but it’s widespread use in the wrong situations have made it despised by many designers.

Comic Sans

About the Author:

This is a guest post contributed by Neeru from Print Express. Neeru works in marketing and design. She likes sharing her knowledge of web and graphic design.

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27 Responses

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  • Jesse, July 27, 2012

    How is Papyrus left off this list?!

  • Stephanie, July 28, 2012

    Am I missing something or are there only four most hated fonts listed?

    • Steven Snell, July 28, 2012

      Stephanie,
      There are only 4 listed. If you have other suggestions feel free to leave them in a comment.

  • John Richardson, July 28, 2012

    I just knew Comic Sans had to be on the list! So overused… probably made famous by AOL and early versions of Microsoft Word.

  • Matt, July 28, 2012

    There are more to add to the hated list:)

    • Steven Snell, July 28, 2012

      Matt,
      Feel free to give your suggestions.

  • yellowliner, July 30, 2012

    Mistral! Overused and dated.

  • Anna, July 30, 2012

    Great post man, but for me I think hated font list would be a bit bigger :)

  • TC, July 30, 2012

    I’m guessing that because Curlz MT was missed from the worst font (http://www.freefontsdb.com/detail/5715/Curlz-MT) that it’s OK to use!

    • Steven Snell, July 30, 2012

      TC,
      There is no “worst” font list in this post. The basis of the most loved and most hated lists is public opinion, which would be different than basing the list off of the best or worst fonts of the author’s opinion.

  • John, July 30, 2012

    I sure hate comic sans.

  • Carlos Gomes, August 1, 2012

    I like Souvenier. Am I too dumb?

    • Steven Snell, August 1, 2012

      Carlos,
      No. If fonts are used in the right situations there is no problem. What makes some fonts “hated” is that they become popular and people use them in the wrong situations just because the font is popular or convenient.

  • Jason, August 2, 2012

    Souvenir appears to be a knockoff of Cooper Black, which is actually well-designed and useful in the right context. Those other hated fonts do suck, though.

  • Heike, August 2, 2012

    Instead of just labeling fonts as loved or hated it would be great to show examples of when they are being used appropriately and when not…..so that some of us who actually like Comic Sans and Souvenir can understand what you are talking about.

  • Marissa, August 3, 2012

    In the words of Art Historian Ernst Gombrich, when speaking of art, I don’t believe there are any wrong reasons to LOVE a typeface, but there probably are wrong reasons to hate them.

    But I’m totally with you on the mess of an Olympic font.

  • Maggie, August 5, 2012

    Heike, I believe this is the example you’re looking for.

    http://www.9gag.com/gag/4638741

  • rickymartin, August 13, 2012

    You have truly been an inspiration.

  • Leighton, August 14, 2012

    No Wisdom Script? I see that typeface everywhere.

  • Joe, August 21, 2012

    That is a pretty cool list. I love the Garamond idea enough to give it a shot.

    Joe

  • Corey, August 29, 2012

    Can we add Papyrus to the list of worst? Especially since Avatar, I feel like I see it everywhere now and in most cases on products and advertisements that it doesn’t even belong. It’s like the trendy yet somewhat annoying pop song that gets overplayed for years…

  • Natalie Kay, September 17, 2012

    i know this is annoying but “Helvatica” is spelled wrong above!

    • Steven Snell, September 17, 2012

      Thanks for pointing it out Natalie. I just made the correction.

  • Mike, November 2, 2012

    Haha, great post. Interesting to see the most-loved/most-hated. I can definitely say I love helvetica and hate comic sans, those are the most obvious ;)

  • @harmonikas996, January 7, 2013

    I love typography, and I love to learn new things, thank you guys! :)

  • Chris Schubert, February 13, 2013

    For the most hated list: Arial. Also it has many (very) characters (UTF …) it is … default. Chris

  • Sander, February 26, 2013

    It’s a matter of visual literacy of every individual. I’m a graphic designer and although I see Helvetica is a good typeface and Comic Sans MS isn’t… They’re both equally overused. Comic Sans MS by the amateur and Helvetica by the professional.

    Typefaces shouldn’t be chosen by wether they’re good or bad but wether they suit your assignment/design or not. Somethings can by awfully ugly but still communicate what it’s made for and visa versa.

    People who are interested in typography and more specific: typefaces. Read Simon Garfield’s “Just my type”. You don’t have to agree with everything in the book (I don’t) but it’s fun to read :)

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