Your Email Font Choice Is Making You Look Like a Sociopath

Gif by Bobby Finger

Would you like some advice? Probably not, but here goes. You should only use your email client’s default font.

Even the most neutral emails sound menacing, unhinged, or inappropriately friendly in almost any font other than the default one. Since this is a guideline and not a rule, there is some wiggle room. People who run bead stores, pet trainers or groomers, and teachers who work with children in grades three or below can use a “wacky” font when writing in their professional capacity, but only if the email contains good or routine news such as a reminder that Wednesday is room four’s summer solstice celebration, or that dog Halloween costumes are 30% off through Friday.


When writing an email in any other circumstance, professional or otherwise, you will sound a little bit nuts if you stray from Gmail’s “sans serif,” Mac Mail’s Helvetica, or Outlook’s Tahoma. At best, an otherwise normal email to your boss about your need for a personal day to take your cat to the vet will make you sound like a Cat Lady if it’s in Papyrus. At worst, an invitation to a nice weekend away at your place upstate, when written in Bradley Hand, reads more like an invitation to get murdered by a killer who will drink a refreshing lemonade over your chopped up body.

But don’t take it from me. Imagine receiving this email:

Wow, how nice to hear some friendly words from a pal who wishes me well. I think we will get together IRL. Now imagine receiving this one.


Hm. Something about this Kelly Stout person is off. Why is she so happy for me about something that doesn’t concern her at all? Why is she so eager to hang all of a sudden? Seems like I was right to stay out of touch with her.

Or imagine this one:


Who does this person think she is telling me what to do? And what’s with the condescending attitude? “Sound like you’re doing really well!” Why wouldn’t I be doing well? Go fuck yourself, Kelly.

Or this one?


Wow, the sender of this email, who was known in your college friend group as a “big sweetie” and obviously attends an MFA program somewhere in the Midwest, has noted that you have taken a corporate job of some kind, and would like to casually remind you that her debut novel is out from Ecco in September without actually having to say it.

Or imagine getting this:


This would actually work fine if you were inviting me to your daughter’s wedding at an old-timey bank that has a clocktower, but considering the content, inappropriate.

How about this one?


This one may be the most disturbing of all and I’ll tell you why. The writer of this email took the time to change the font from “sans serif” to Geneva, a font that looks like it should be some email client’s default, but isn’t. Why take the time to make an almost imperceptible change? What kind of person does that? What kind of message is that supposed to send? Are you trying to keep the recipient up all night wondering if it was just her or the font was somehow...different? It’s really not right.

The next two should go without saying, but out of an abundance of caution, I want to let you know that if you receive either of these emails, you are about to die by the hand of the sender.


If you insist on changing your font, you are permitted to use Apple Chancery, ordinarily the go-to font for fifth-grade students working on some kind of historical diary project and people who have self-published their poetry, but in this context, is so unhinged as to seem fun in all the right ways. Check it out:


Apple Chancery, when used in this context, is a font that says, “when we get together soon IRL, I am not going to ask you how work is going, or who you’ve heard from recently, but we will eat raisins, and I will show you photos of my birds, and it will be a memory that lasts a lifetime.”

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About the author

Kelly Stout

Kelly Stout is Jezebel's features editor.