Simply put, Zapf Chancery is the font that never should have been born.
No offense to Hermann Zapf, the font’s designer. (To his credit, he also designed Palatino and Optima.) Zapf Chancery looks a lot like the calligraphy I was teaching myself when I was 12. Only uglier. But Zapf Chancery’s real crime isn’t its existence, it’s HOW and HOW OFTEN it’s used.
Unfortunately, Zapf Chancery comes standard as a system font on every computer I’ve ever seen. So that means it falls into the hands of, well, everyone. And lets face it, not everyone is qualified to use fonts beyond Arial and Times.
Because it’s standard on every computer, it’s not just individuals who have the potential to create something awful with Zapf Chancery, it’s sign shops, copy shops, art school students, and on-line quicky design services. And they are creating! From beauty shop signs and address stampers, to invitations and (blech!) business cards, Zapf Chancery seems to be everywhere!
Currently, my biggest Zapf Chancery pet peeve is the email autosignature. Oh yes, people (almost exclusively women – why oh why ladies?!) seem to like to “decorate” their email autosignature. As if a background image of a spiral notebook or cherubs or clouds wasn’t bad enough, people are formatting their signatures in Zapf Chancery. Is it supposed to look more like your real signature than Arial? It doesn’t. Is it supposed to look “fancy?” It just looks silly. (Of course, using Comic Sans is an equal atrocity.)
So please, stop using Zapf Chancery. If we all stop using it, maybe it will be replaced on the standard system font list with something useful, like Garamond or Trajan. And while you’re at it, unless you’re creating an actual comic book, please give up Comic Sans as well. (And don’t get me started on Sand and Papyrus!)