Zapfino is the New Papyrus

An article by David Brooks on November 6, 2007


When I was in college I needed a unique and original font for a project so I scoured the web for just the right font. You might have heard of Papyrus, the font in question. It seemed perfect at the time though in hindsight I probably should have kept looking because it didn’t exactly fit the project. Nevertheless I used that font on a few things here and there but eventually I lost interest.

It was about then that I started seeing it everywhere. Maybe it’s just what happens when you’re looking or you know what to look for, but I don’t think so. After about 5 years I’m still seeing it everywhere and in some ways it seems to be getting more prevalent.

Don’t get me wrong, Papyrus can be a great font when you’re designing something fitting… like ancient scrolls… but it’s not for everything, which is maybe what makes it so obvious when it’s misused. I’ve heard of design professors that say under no circumstances should you ever use that font. I disagree, this isn’t Comic Sans we’re talking about. (kidding…)

Fonts like Helvetica, Times New Roman, Garamond, and Lucida Grande have the staying power it takes to be used time after time. Nobody can really fault you for using one of those as your staple even though they can be a bit boring at times if used in the wrong place.

Enter Zapfino

With all that said, history repeats itself. I found Zapfino, and it was great. It’s a script/cursive font that is both beautiful and legible, legibility being the most shocking from a script font.

I used it for quite awhile but it started to get old to me, so I distanced myself from it a little bit to see what happened. Like an explosion it started showing up everywhere. The thing that prompted me to write this article was when Zapfino showed up on the cover of a major magazine’s seasonal catalog.

Now, don’t get me wrong, both Papyrus and Zapfino are great fonts, but I think that I have officially retired them from my library. I’m not considering myself a “trend setter,” especially not in this case. I think I just found the best of the free fonts that were bound to catch on anyway. So, prepare yourself for this year’s Christmas cards which will no doubt be filled with a barrage of Zapfino and maybe some Papyrus to promote holiday spirit.

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About David Brooks

David Brooks is the owner of the small creative studio, Northward Compass, based out of Orlando, Florida. He writes electronic and ambient music as Light The Deep, and fantasy stories about a place called Elerien.

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