On Fun Fonts

If you are writing and have the thought, “Maybe I’ll jazz it up a bit by using a font that fits the story,” STOP. (You could argue similarly for using all caps for emphasis but that’s another post and not one I will be writing.) Don’t do it. I have seen many a weak, poorly developed plot and cliché rhyme painted over with a “fun” font. Here are some examples.

  • A story about food in the freezer written in “Chiller”
  • A story about a retired journalist written in “Courier New”
  • A poem written as a letter in “Lucida”
  • A story from a kid’s POV written in “Comic Sans”

I’m not talking about well sprinkled font use. If your serial killer has written, “Hello,” on the bathroom mirror and the main character sees right before noticing the shadowy figure in the reflection go ahead and write that in “Chiller”. If your character reads a newspaper, you can put the article in newstype. If the character is writing a note use one of the handwriting fonts if you want.

But for goodness sake people, don’t make another person read pages of text in “fun” fonts.

When someone gives me a file and asks me to review it and give feedback and it is in some annoying font I immediately change it to “Times New Roman”, “Arial”, or whatever the new font MS Word has decided all my papers should be in is and then add a note saying something like, “When I see an entire piece in this font I assume it wasn’t good enough on its own so you tried to dress it up. First impressions matter.” Granted, I might phrase it a little more politically depending on the situation.

I write this because it is true. I have yet to read something entirely in a “fun” font that has been worth reading. If you are still unsure what I mean just think about that one girl you know who is really good at makeup (not orange caked on but almost photoshopped quality good) and wears it thick enough that it could slow a bullet. Have you ever seen her without it? Kind of a let down I bet. Were you just like, “Oh, okay.” That’s the type of font use I am referencing.

Now I’m a big fan of telling you what not to do, what I think is stupid, and possibly crushing your dreams and self-importance so you might ask, “Prisma, if you know so much, what font do you suggest.”

First, I don’t know that much, that’s my friend Avery’s job. I just have a lot of, often reasonable and supported, strong opinions. Second, I suggest hand writing first drafts but that is for another post.

So what font do I suggest? The one that MS Word has as default. Open up the program and just start. Worry about any flounces later if you insist on them. Why does it matter what font you are using if what you are writing is good enough.

Use a boring font. Let people see just one layer between them and you: the words. Any “fun” fonts or creative formatting choices are just going to make it harder for a reader to become a fan, stand behind your work, and feel compelled to push you onto others.

The simple truth stands, if what you are writing is good then you don’t need anything else but words.


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