Hello, I’m Stacy Alberto (fellow VCC design student) – guest blogging for you today because Amanda went to rest her eyes after some students projected blinding comps for her Advanced Web Class… Just kidding, those were done as a joke. However it got me thinking about what makes bad design, and it led to this article of Tragic Typeface Alternatives, which revisits 10 Tragic Typefaces and offers more viable alternatives.
Tragic Typeface Alternatives
For those of you insisting on using atrocious fonts such as Comic Sans, Impact, Papyrus, Brush Script, and the like, read the reasons why they are bad. Then, consider using the suggested alternatives.
First, most of these fonts are commonly used with Microsoft software. If you use Microsoft to design anything, don’t expect to be taken seriously by the design industry. (We use Macs in the lab for a reason.) Also, these fonts are popular among non-designers because they’re so easily accessible on Microsoft computers. Remember, you do not want to associate your professional design with a font that is commonly used for MySpace graphics or school newsletters.
Using these fonts will not win you any awards. Note the typefaces used in AIGA’s design archives. Research Typographic Design and you’ll be hard-pressed to find anyone using a Microsoft-based font.
Here are some side-by-side comparisons of fonts that you should avoid at all costs, along with a more viable alternative.
Comic Sans is frequently used by non-designers. It has quirky, irregular strokes, but not irregular enough to look like true handwriting. Do NOT replace Comic Sans with a similar font like Chalkboard or Marker Felt. That’s like trading a Wal-mart shirt for a K-mart one and expecting it to fit better. AlphaMack AOE is a novelty font that has a more realistic handwritten look.
Bradley Hand ITC
This is a handwritten font that is frequently used among amateur designers (a.k.a. student designers breaking out of their Comic Sans phase). Use something like Caflisch Script if you want a more elegant handwritten effect.
Popular among amateur and non-designers and because of its distinctive characteristics including calligraphic strokes and distressed edges. When a novelty font is “played out”, it loses its appeal and you’re better off not using it ever again. Optima offers similar unique strokes without calling too much attention to itself.
Just because it has “script” in the name doesn’t mean it should be used on a wedding invitation.
Savoy LET and Edwardian Script offer more elegant alternatives.
Originally based on Roman capital letterforms, Herculanum lacks elegance because of its novelty, handwritten-like strokes. Trajan is a much more elegant typeface that will give that same powerful Roman empire effect.
Courier, Courier New
Courier is a system font, used when your original font is missing or unavailable. Do NOT ever use system fonts in design (includes Andale Mono, Monaco, Chicago and most fonts with city names). Using it in a design says, “My font defaulted and I am an incompetent designer because of it.” If you want that “type” look, use AmericanTypewriter, Rockwell, or Lubalin Graph. The kerning of these fonts have better aesthetics than monospaced system fonts.
Do not use Impact if you want to make an impact. It is a distorted, “squished” typeface – note the flat dotted “i” and the angles on the “x”. Use Helvetica Neue Condensed Black – the typeface is more open for breathing room and readability.
Times New Roman
Times New Roman in itself is not a bad font, but it’s also considered a default font. Default fonts say “I’m too lazy to pick a font”. Despite similar appearances, not all serif typefaces are the same. Using Baskerville or Caslon will show that you’ve made a conscious effort to choose a typeface. If you can’t tell the difference, note the highlighted areas to compare the subtle differences.
A reminder on using fonts appropriately
- Novelty fonts should enhance a piece; it should not be the design’s main focus
- Don’t use novelty or capitalized fonts as body copy
- Don’t use script fonts in all caps
Other Great Typefaces
The following typefaces have stood the test of time and are great for “everyday” use because of its strong typographical qualities.
- Century Schoolbook
- Gil Sans
- Franklin Gothic
Search Fonts.com and Linotype.com for more info on these great fonts. Typography classes can teach you what is a serif, stroke, counter, etc., but it’s up to your discretion to decide when a serif, stroke, or counter is used appropriately. When it comes down to it, don’t use fonts that are used by unprofessionals. Search for new typefaces that will make your project innovative and fresh.
If you have any more typeface alternatives, post them here.
If you are a defender of Comic Sans or Papyrus, give us your two cents!
We might still think you’re crazy, but we’re willing to listen