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It seems like trends these days come to life and go to the grave in the time it takes to eat a sandwich. Designers have a difficult job of keeping abreast of typography trends and an even more difficult time admitting when their go-to fonts have become overused, and finally, cliché.
While most of the fonts that have gone out of style aren’t necessarily “bad” fonts as people often label them, their overuse has changed our perception of them. Papyrus, Comic Sans and Curlz are just a few examples of popular typefaces that are now ubiquitously seen as unprofessional.
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Here are a few fonts that are overused and may be killing your design plus other fonts to use as replacements that will enhance your message instead of distracting from it.
Verdana was one of the first typefaces created for on-screen readability. Like Helvetica and Arial, it is somewhat of an all-purpose typeface that has been, well, used for too many purposes. It is available across Mac and Windows systems and is a staple of e-reader devices and reading apps.
Basically, it’s become part of the backdrop for the majority of web users that—despite being functional and user-friendly—doesn’t stand out.
Alternative: Brandon Grotesque
Brandon Grotesque is as user-friendly as Verdana, but has a touch of pleasant personality. It’s elegant and clear, yet expressive, which makes it a great choice for professional yet personalized materials such as business cards or resumes.
This curvy, geometric sans serif is both distinctive and practical. It’s based on a design movement that changed typography forever. However, its iconic status doesn’t necessarily work in its favor when it comes to creating a fresh design, since it can be difficult to use Bauhaus in way that looks non-stereotypical or modern.
Alternatives: Cubano, Odin Rounded
#3 Bradley Hand
For many people, using Bradley Hand is practically an involuntary reflex when it comes to choosing a warm, handwritten font. Many businesses use it in an attempt to seem relatable and human, but it has become such a cliché that it now comes across as cheap and disingenuous.
Alternatives: Bad Script, Brainflower
Google’s Bad Script is casual yet smooth, a great replacement for Bradley Hand. If you want to get a little whacky with the handwritten look, Brainflower may be the way to go—although it doesn’t include lower case and will be less functional as body text than Bad Script.
#4 Bleeding Cowboys
This typefaces that has been described as “dirty” and “western” has become a staple of country album art and tattoo parlor logos. It has also inspired a Facebook group of people begging others to stop using it.
Alternative: Kraftstoff, Draft Display, Bear & Loupe
Like Bleeding Cowboys, Draft Display and Bear & Loupe are ideal for headlines or short bursts of leading text, while Kraftstoff is a little more versatile.
#5 Courier and Courier New
Courier is efficient when readability and clarity are a priority. But it no longer comes across as progressive and modern or even charmingly vintage when it comes to design.
Museo is a versatile semi-slab serif that works for both body text and headlines. Museo, like Courier, is lucid and legible. This serif pairs well with sans serif fonts such as Brandon Grotesque or Trade Gothic.
Bonus: Theme Fonts
Some old-timey or holiday-themed designs call for something special. Rather than the much-maligned Chiller for a Halloween design, go with Feral, Auld Magick or the bold Akura Popo.
For fonts with the feel of Old English but without its reputation, try Epique or Aquiline Two.
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