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Meet The Man Who Created Papyrus, The World's (Other) Most Hated Font

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papyrus font design by Chris Costello 1983

Not sure why the font is hated. A lot of people seem to use it. 

As with Comic Sans, Papyrus owes its popularity to Microsoft. Both typefaces came as pre-installed on Microsoft Office starting with Office '97. It was originally licensed by Microsoft in the mid-'90s by late type director Robert Norton, who chose it to extend the design breadth of Microsoft's desktop publishing software, Publisher. According to Microsoft spokeswoman Ronnie Martin (who emailed me in Papyrus), Papyrus gets installed with any version of Office that includes Publisher to this day—which therefore includes most installations of Office.

That means that, as of 2012, Papyrus is on the machines of at least a billion people. And that's just on the Windows side: Papyrus has also been a default system font on OS X since 2003, which puts it on at least 120 million Macs, and probably more.

Today, at least one in seven people on the planet has access to Papyrus on his or her computer, a fact that boggles Costello's mind. "When I originally designed it, I imagined this very narrow context for its use," he says. "These days, though, everyone uses it for everything," from the logos of heavy metal bands to the flyer for your local church's bake sale. Costello says he thinks it appeals to people who like an artsy and vaguely earthy aesthetic. Sometimes, they use it appropriately: for example, Papyrus works just fine for yoga studios, stores selling craft arts, New Age stores, and in Christian contexts. But just as often as not, people use Papyrus in comically unsuitable ways. "I never intended Papyrus to be used for mortgage companies and construction logos," Costello says.

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