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What is Ransom Note Desktop Publishing?


ransom note desktop publishing extreme example

An amateur designer might think this letter looks fine but too many fonts earns it the ransom note desktop publishing label; All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com
Ransom Note Font

Written in the free Ransom Note font by Divide by Zero.

Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com
too many awful colors

Too many poorly chosen colors can qualify as ransom note desktop publishing.

Jacci Howard Bear; licensed to About.com

Question: What is Ransom Note Desktop Publishing?


Think of letters cut out of magazines in the stereotypical ransom note fashion and that's a clue to how ransom note desktop publishing looks — erratic, haphazard.

In this FAQ:

  1. Explanation of what contributes to the ransom note look
  2. Strategies for avoiding bad design
  3. Free ransom note fonts for download


Answer: A generally derogatory term for poor use of type, the ransom note label has been applied to any type of bad page layout from 18th century handbills to 21st century sales fliers. Ransom note desktop publishing is often used to describe the use of desktop publishing software that results in any amateurish typography but can apply to the overall layout as well — both in print and on the Web.

Text doesn't have to actually look like a ransom note to earn the ransom note label. Using too many fonts, decorative fonts at small sizes, bad alignment, or too many colors can all lead to a desktop publishing document or a Web page being tagged as ransom note design.

Avoiding the Ransom Note Look

The graphic design principles aren't intended only for professional designers. Beginners and the casual user of desktop publishing software can avoid haphazard layouts and bad design by following a few well-established principles and guidelines to arranging text and graphics.

Free Ransom Note Fonts

Sometimes the ransom note look is intentional. Make a bad design statement with some of these fun, free fonts.
  • Ransom Note font was used in one of the images accompanying this article.


  • Ransom by John Morris has 26 letters, each a different style.


  • Ransom is a free font with upper and lower case, numbers, and some punctuation.


  • Paul's Ransom Note features reverse haphazard lettering.


  • Got Heroin is a gritty ransom note style with the shakes.


  • Kidnap Note is free mish-mash of characters for personal use only.


  • Kingthings Extortion is your cut-out letters style font with numbers and punctuation.


  • Erpressung by Manfred Klein is another cut-out letters font, for personal use only.

All the FAQs: Career & Business | Software | Design & Layout | Graphics | Type & Fonts | Prepress & Printing

Readers Respond: Best Ways to Mix and Match Fonts

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