papyrus is the worst thing ever invented.

I once went into the Louisiana Art & Science Museum in Baton Rouge to discover, much to my dismay, an entire exhibit on Egypt laced with descriptions typed in Papyrus typeface. First off, this is an ART and science museum, and the designer in me just died. Second, what is the obsession with Papyrus? A 2-point analysis:

1.) It's "edgy" (vomit). In thinking of the unstructured edges of the Papyrus letterforms, some (non-designers) think that the result is an artistic, "fancy" font. WRONG. Quite the opposite. Papyrus pigeonholes design into the realm of the overdone, tired, and just plain terrible.

2.) It needs to be put on everything as body text!!! Rebuttal: Poor legibility. Need I say more?

Please stick to the basics if discerning good type from bad type is not your strong suit. Baskerville and Garamond would appreciate it. Thank you, and happy Mardi Gras!


Although I'm pretty much with you, and would never use it myself, I was surprised a couple years back when I was at a zoo where they use it on all their signage, and it struck me as not being that bad. The letterspacing is really awful, though, which is the part I can't stand about Papyrus. That P is about a foot away from the "...apyrus."

I completely agree. I go to school in Savannah, GA. Over the last year I've counted at least nine or ten different places that use Papyrus on their signs. On one of the main roads in the historic district you can walk three quarters of a mile and pick out at least four separate businesses that use it. Everything from sushi restaurants to boutiques. Hideous.

I actually think Papyrus is an elegant design. Classic, yet highly original calligraphic letterforms, with a treatment that invokes ink on actual papyrus ( a very rough surface I can attest). The only problem is usage. To be effective, such an original face needs to appear sparingly, not just in its application, but in the broader social context. That is, any use of papyrus in the world around you makes every other use a bad choice.

I just want to distinguish bad design (spacing aside) from bad usage.

Usage is all about context. Any designer who wants to use Papyrus as a display font at the end of the nineteenth Century, or the begging of the 20thC, should not be dissuaded by your thread.

Papyrus is actually quite nice.

Your gripe is not with the typeface, but in how it's improperly used and overused.

I think my main gripe is just that the typeface itself has so much baggage. It doesn't allow the words to really speak for themselves because the design is not subtle. So I agree with you to a point, BeauW.

I like Papyrus. I think that it is just fine.

Overused? Sure.

Not for every use? Well, what typeface is?

The P a in Papyrus in the sample above is probably that way because the program that made that sample graphic didn't support kerning.

Papyrus is not a horrible font to begin with, but its uses are what make me cringe every time I see it: history teachers trying to be "authentic" when teaching a lesson about Ancient Egypt, Rome, Native Americans, etc., small businesses such as spas, t-shirt stores, or galleries, and so many more. I cannot even begin to count the times I have seen the font.
Strangely, I see Papyrus used more on the West Coast than the East. A font overused in the East is Copperplate.