Sunday, May 10

Papyrus- What will we do with you?

The SCBWI conference I attended was a smashing success. Great speakers and fabulous advice was abundant. Everything was going great until a speaker began his PowerPoint presentation and used a font so terrible I was distracted the rest of the day.

It was *gasp* Papyrus. I know you can feel my horror, but do you know why other that you've been taught to never use it?

Papyrus was developed by American designer Chris Costello in 1982 and was released by Letraset. Its goal was to feel like something handwritten on 2000 year old papyrus. Regardless of how I personally feel about the font, I can't argue that it missed its goal. The font does indeed give that feel. So what's the problem?

Papyrus has become the default font for any designer (or non-designer) who wants an elegant antique feel. This has led to the prolific overuse of the font over time. It's found on Arizona iced tea, Bakery signs, PowerPoint presentations and just about anywhere else you can think of. It also generally accepted that its usage is a clear indication that the user is not a trained designer. My students certainly know not to use it. In fact, they sometimes turn in "joke" projects using the font to see how long it takes for me to notice. The average time is .04 seconds.

When is it acceptable to use the font? It may be used for something that is representative of a 2000 year old papyrus manuscript. That's it. No exceptions. If you want an antiqued look, do it yourself by utilizing custom brushes in Photoshop. If you want it to look old, draw it by hand.


Darbie Boswell said...

Yes. Yes, yes, yes. Sooo overused. Not to mention the horrendous built-in kerning (or lack thereof) between capitals and lowercase. And the default leading is just massive.

lorem ipsum (aka Prof. Bosler) said...

You hit the other nail. Just typing out the word Papyrus leaves a HUGE gap between the P and a. It could really use an overhaul.