So what are the most overused fonts in 2016? It’s possible that nobody told you this. It’s possible you’ve never considered it. Yet, there are certain rules when it comes to writing.
Specifically, the practical, the mundane, or the literal writing. Typing words onto a blank page is a process in and of itself. It needs to be exhaustively checked and that means looking at the typeset.
Because when the words start overflowing onto our canvas, we need them to flow in beautifully. Because harmony in the mind needs to be complemented by harmony in the fonts we use. While that means staying clear of abominations (Comic Sans and Papyrus, we’re looking at you!), it also implies avoiding currently overused fonts.
Over the following list, we’ll make sure you don’t make the unknowing mistake of going for the Times New Roman of this week, month, or year.
Times New Roman
We know it’s one of the obvious ones. However, that does not mean that Times New Roman isn’t still grossly overused. What is baffling, though, is that users still rely on this font for many of their needs. Oddly enough, this stems from the fact that it’s the required one in academia – students delivering essays, professors submitting research papers – all use Times New Roman.
Let’s analyze it a bit by looking at this overused quote from Hemingway that delivers a nice companion for our examples:
While the quote may influence our perceptions of this font and those to come, we should still try to look at the specifics. First of all, Times New Roman appears very airy. It’s spacious and grand like it wants to show you that the words are important. Like a show off muscle-man booming out through an S-sized T-shirt, Times New Roman makes a conscious effort to demonstrate its exquisiteness. And that’s what makes it so undesirable.
The relatively fat “g” is unnecessarily big. The capital “I” further develops the self-centered quote above into an over-the-top singularity of narcissism. However, these two just scrape the top of the heap of things wrong with Times New Roman. Yet, instead of talking more about these, we should see some alternatives.
Say you’re writing a paper for your class on comparative lit, what are you going to use? Surely, if you’re to follow the tips from the teacher, you should stick to the classic. However, we’ve all gone through the downsides of Times New Roman. There’s no way to un-see how badly-shaped it is, how disproportionate and crude. Thus, a few tips:
- Baskerville; Helvetica; Calibri.
Don’t mind the name of this one – it’s not grotesque. When speaking about fonts, that word should be reserved for fonts like Brush Script or Curlz MT. Brandon Grotesque may have seemed like a nice typeset… a few years ago. May have. While the bright letters of Brandon’s font may have seemed like a good idea and general direction for font-making then, now it’s just a cliché.
Fashion houses have set their creeds to it. Scholars have wrought papers full of its smirk-like letters. Bloggers have started odd cult-clubs and novelists have rested character destinies on the Is and Ts of the Brandon Grotesque. So much so that Typewolf named it most overused font of 2016. Let’s take a look at it:
We’ll be the first to admit it: the font does pertain to a peculiar sense of sophistication. However, what we’ve said earlier still holds true. Hemingway now seems like a second-rate writer that appeals to middle-aged housewives and their teenage daughters. The more we think about it, the more it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to use this cheat to have them reading one of the greatest American writers.
Still, the font looks like it’s trying too much to grab our attention. Its ultimate trick appears to have worked. So many young and naïve writers are now hooked to it. It’s unreal and we’re here to set that straight. Some amazing fonts that could work instead are:
- Neutraface; Halis Rounded; Baskerville.
We’ve decided not to ignore this font just because it’s the default font in Microsoft’s eternal Word. While changing it is a simple as can be, few people actually do. This gives way to oh-so-many documents delivered in Calibri. A font that’s at the same time too spacy, too simple, too smug, and too boring.
While we contemplate how a single typeset can be those four things at the same time, it would serve us better to have a look at it, for demonstration purposes. We apologize for what you are about to see; we do know you see it every single day at work.
Simply looking at the basic Calibri makes one realize that it’s too much. Even the typical line spacing in Word – multiple at 1.08 – is too much for Calibri. This font manages to be tight and spacy and similar to Lucinda Console and to Arial at the same time (two of the most trivial fonts in history).
We know we’ve recommended this one as replacement for Times New Roman. And we stand by our decision. It’s still miles ahead of the general go-to academia font. It does better on screens and performs well in printed form.However, Calibri is the exception confirming the rule that fonts need to be more than just fonts – they need to be carefully fashioned into the right proportions. That’s how masters like Garamond managed to popularize their typesets. And that’s why I don’t use Calibri. Some replacements:
- Whitney; Droid Sans; Calibri Light.
There’s a simple solution to Caslon. It’s called Garamond. However, most people who go the extra mile to buy Caslon will probably see switching to the classic and free font as some sort of downgrade. Like voluntarily switching to a lower societal class.Using Caslon, therefore, has something to do with elitism – the characteristic idea that once you paid for something you are supposed to use that something.
Moving on to more about the font itself, one safe call would be to say that it’s very unruly. Just look at the following example:
One small-but-annoying defect of this font is that it’s several pixels larger than normal. That makes it appear bulky. Like it almost wants you to struggle reading its lines. Moreover, look at those “t” symbols – they look unfinished with their little unfinished horizontal lines. And the “I”s are even more standoffish with Caslon than with Times New Roman. This time, they look as if they’re the only bolded letters on a string – magnifying Hemingway’s id to Freudian proportions.
Here are some alternatives to this overused and ridiculously bellicose font:
- Sabon; Plantin; Ehrhardt.
I don’t think we need to stress how much we dislike this font. It’s become a cliché to be used in just about every internet meme possible (raising the probability of first grade encounters to “I can’t take it anymore”). But apart from that, it’s like the mother of poor taste had a lovechild with human folly to create something so blinding and invasive that I’d almost threaten to sue it for invading my personal space.
Every time I encounter Impact captioned images on the internet, I fast forward as quickly as I can. The long set of crimes that I would prosecute against this horrid font involve violation of the cornea, moral depravity, and the abusing of freedom of speech. Look away now:
If you’re more resilient to internet crimes and do not find the above image morally degrading, please do read on. I don’t think there is too much to say about the utter ugliness of this typeset. However, if there ever was a Font Penitentiary, I would wholeheartedly nominate Impact for the position of first inmate.
If you want to create a meme online, here are few options so as not to assault the eye of the beholder:
- Lyon display; Leitura Display; Tiempos Headline.
Impact was a crime. While not directly responsible for the unfortunate state of humanity, Brown still presents itself as an accomplice. For many people, internet people especially, Brown may prove a suitable replacement for the aforementioned typeset. However, as we are both persons of good taste and fancy,we will steer clear of Mr. Brown’s typeface.
Brown is a favorite among those involved with fine arts. Announcements for gallery exhibits, posters for classical concerts, modern art museums, and conferences on Giotto all have used this font in their headlines. However, if you are about to try to market and promote something similar, we recommend you scroll a little bit for alternatives. Here’s how Brown looks:
Brown has been categorized as being a more poster-friendly form of Futura. However, nothing about this font reminds us of anything friendly. Instead, it’s only slightly less invasive than Impact. Far more of a self-aggrandizer than Times New Roman. And let’s not forget annoying – mostly because it pretends to be a wiser, older brother of the previous font, while only being a second generation step-cousin.
If you want to appear like you know your fonts, here are the best alternatives to Brown:
- Value Sans; Harmonia Sans; Value Serif.
We have no idea what kind of evil mastermind invented this one (actually it was Howard Kettler), but for a monospaced font, this one is a truly horrid typeset. There are oh-so-many fonts out there that outmatch this typewriter relic in terms of readability, design, and overall proportions.
Courier new is now, strangely enough, rising in popularity. We think this may be due to the recent rise of hipsters coupled with its 17th Century letter look. If you needed a reminder of how this typeset looked like, look at the following example. Hemingway’s quote is now even more authentic.
The above body of text looks like a letter that Hemingway sent to his dear friend James Joyce. However, we know that they did not send too many letters: they preferred each other’s actual company. Preferably both inebriated in a London pub. So Courier seems blatantly fake – all the more because we know Kettler designed specifically to look like a typewriter font.
Here are a few more likable alternatives to Courier New:
- Anonymous Pro; Pica 10 Pitch; Courier Prime.
Marc Simonson really hit it big with this clunky, over the top font. We’ll admit: its geometric harmony seems sublime. The way it pampers the readers’ eye makes it likable, almost too likable. Were it not for the insanely overused factor, we would all tend to agree that Proxima Nova is a decent font. However, since we’re not here to play the devil’s advocate, we’re going to go all in against this typeset.
There’s no excuse for web designers to use this font today. Neither should you, no matter what type of writing services you’re offering. From a plain header, to a webpage’s buttons, and to your next bestselling novel, try to avoid it. Here’s how to identify the suspect:
There are a lot of alternatives to Proxima Nova. Thus, we believe there’s no excuse for someone willing to go to great lengths to make use of this typeface. The writing is tall. The symbols look elongated way more than they should have been. The general impression is of someone incessantly trying to make you read and review his new book.
If you want to avoid friends slowly distancing themselves from you, try these fonts instead:
- Armitage; FF Mark; Neuzeit.
Trajan is a noble font. It is endowed with the blood of the ancients. Fashioned through fire and steam in the olden days of the Roman empire. It was the go-to choice for many a monument and it has braved battles over battles to its supremacy. However, for all its history, all its pretentiously ostentatious displays atop buildings, Trajan remains overused.
While Guttenberg, Garamond, Adobe, and 3rd-year high-schoolers remain inspired by this Latin model of perfection, we can’t help but sigh. It’s useful to remind ourselves, therefore, of the virtues and vices of this typeset:
How to teleport Hemingway from the 20th Century to ancient Rome? Apparently, it’s enough to transpose his writing from whatever font to Trajan. This creates a short-circuit in Earth’s timeline, making sure the great modern writer suddenly becomes an ancient philosopher. Maybe he was Virgil – who knows?
In all seriousness, though, if you ever want to make whatever quote seem like it’s from times of old, write it in Trajan. For extra points, you can try adding yellowish, decrepit wall as the background. Still, if you want to take yourself seriously, use these fonts instead:
- FS Rome; Stevens Titling; Shango Gothic.
The twentieth century was one of war, turmoil, futuristic designs, and communism. Want to see the lovechild of the latter two? Try typing something and setting it to the Futura typeset.You’ll either immediately reignite the cold war, get a friendship request from the Soviet Union, or both.
Futura is a really good font, however. It’s decent and offers a clean, pleasant read. Compared to some of the fonts here, it gives the feeling of nobility. It seems wise. It’s seen its fair share of history and that’s saying a lot for an 89-year-old typeset.
Sophisticated and old-fashioned at the same time, Futura makes a font for those who like to dwell in the past yet stay firmly anchored in the present. And that for of temporal acuity is what brings it slightly into the cliché zone, especially since it’s so overused today.
Luckily for you, there are more than a few decent variations of Futura that eliminate the cheesiness and replace it with a bit more pizazz. Try these ones out:
- Sofia; Harmonia Sans; Avant Garde.
What to Take Out of This?
In the end, we should keep in mind that just because a font is beautiful, we shouldn’t assume it’s not already on the yellow brick road to pretentiousness and cheesiness. Moderation in all things is a motto that should apply to everything in life, typefaces included. The 10 most overused fonts of 2016 make no exception.