It happens a lot when I work with startups that I stumble over the same few fonts that come with computers since the last 20 years. There is nothing to say against the use of timeless fonts like the Helvetica or the Microsoft clone Arial, but it’s mostly the less tasteful alternatives that hurt my eyes. Especially if something needs to look handwritten or hand painted it gets ugly.
While almost everything seems to change after a few years due to new and better software, fonts are amazingly resistant to modern updates. The reflexes haven’t changed neither:
- “I want it look hand painted or childish!” – ComicSans
- “Exotic or oriental please!” – Papyrus
- “Serious business going on here!” – Bank Gothic
- “Elegant and/or romantic” – Cheesy script, probably the Bickham
- “Handwritten makes it look so individual” –Brush Script for sure (seriously I have seen people typing their name with that to “sign” mailings.
I guess most use of system fonts comes from not knowing that it’s quiet possible to install extra fonts. While modern computing (and consuming) makes downloading music and videos and installing apps possible with just a few clicks, it’s still a pain to install a new font. There is software like the iTunes-like Linotype Explorer that assists you, but you have to find and install – and first of all: know about it. Of course there people who think $35 for something more individual than the Times New Roman is still money you can safe. Let’s just skip that.
I have another point to make: If you want text to look hand written then why don’t you write it by yourself? I promise: Write a few lines with a Sharpie and it will for sure look 1000 times more authentic than any digital font. I found a excellent tutorial by designer Sean McCabe here. If you need something childish: Ask a child. You will see that our youngsters usually have a totally different approach on things than adults pretending to write like a child. You think this is a waste of time? I tell you what: Once you started getting into it, every box you tag, every envelope you address, every cheque you write, and every note you leave will look better then ever before and people will be able to read it. Now THAT saves BIG time! Have fun trying and don’t hesitate to leave comments if you feel stuck.