Simon Garfield devotes the final chapter of Just My Type: A Book About Fonts (published in the US in 2011) to a rogue’s gallery of “the worst fonts in the world.” Number one on his list: the official typeface of the 2012 Olympic Games. In honor of the games, which open in London today, here’s an excerpt from Garfield’s critique:
The London 2012 Olympic Typeface, which is called 2012 Headline, may be even worse than the London 2012 Olympic Logo, but by the time it was released people were so tired of being outraged by the logo that the type almost passed by unnoticed. …
Like the logo, the uncool font is based on jaggedness and crudeness, not usually considered attributes where sport is concerned. Or maybe it’s an attempt to appear hip and down with the kids—it looks a little like the sort of tagging one might see in 1980s graffiti. It also has a vaguely Greek appearance, or at least the UK interpretation of Greek, the sort of lettering you will find at London kebab shops and restaurants called Dionysus. The slant to the letters is suddenly interrupted by a very round and upright o, which may be trying to be an Olympic Ring. The font does have a few things going for it: it is instantly identifiable, it is not easily forgettable, and because we’ll be seeing so much of it, it may eventually cease to offend. Let’s hope they keep it off the medals.
You can read the entire “worst fonts” chapter at Fast Company. Believe it or not, the much-scorned Comic Sans (which Garfield calls “type that has gone wrong”) didn’t make the list. That’s how bad the eight worst fonts in the world are.
Bonus link: “My Utter Lack of Olympic Spirit,” by British novelist Nick Hornby (High Fidelity, About a Boy, A Long Way Down).