Fonts Not to Use in Business
Fonts can be a pretty personal matter, almost as personal as your morning coffee. Some like Times New Roman, others Courier, and so on. In the business world, though, your personal favorites aren't always appropriate -- whether you're writing an e-mail or document, building a website or making business cards. And even among these what's an appropriate font for one medium isn't necessarily the right font for another.
Some fonts have been around -- and used heavily -- for a long time. And while it's true, according to media analysis site MediaBistro, that there are "safe" fonts, or those that are historically considered highly legible or less likely to annoy, many consider these same fonts -- including Helvetica, Times New Roman and Arial -- particularly boring. Other fonts -- Papyrus, Brush Script, Century Gothic and Comic Sans -- might be too trendy for business use. Educators at Purdue University's Writing Lab note that the right font depends partly on your audience. Some audiences might consider a plain, traditional font perfectly appropriate, but more liberal audiences could consider it boring. So consider to whom you're marketing and communicating when deciding what fonts to avoid.
On a business website, your logo, headers and text should always represent the spirit and purpose of your business -- and not in a dull way. To accomplish that, both Fast Company and the Web Designer Depot recommended avoiding the Arial, Comic Sans, Helvetica and Courier fonts. Furthermore, between the two of them they also warn against overusing the Impact, Papyrus, Brush Script and "handwritten" fonts, among others. One general rule to keep in mind is that font styles and tastes change so avoid fonts commonly available in free, widely-used content creation programs, such as Microsoft Word and Adobe Creative Suite.
Your business e-mail communications should be professional and attractive, not casual and distracting. Don't, however, feel pressure to impress people with intriguing visuals and fonts in your emails. E-mail is primarily a text-based medium, not a visual-based one, so your recipients aren't generally expecting any fine artwork in your e-mails. Therefore, stick to fonts that are fairly straightforward and easy to read. The American Writers and Artists Incorporated state that Arial (12 pt. size) and Verdana (10 pt. size) are favored, traditional font choices for e-mail.
The AWAI also notes that serif type fonts -- or those that have little "feet" at their tips and bases -- are appropriate for business documents, such as printed letters and memos, as these are particularly legible in printed materials. Serif-type fonts include Times New Roman, Palatino, Georgia, Courier, Bookman and Garamond. For documents that will be viewed on a screen, such as e-mail or text on a Web site, use sans serif fonts, such as Helvetica, Arial and Geneva.