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Poor Comic Sans . . .

The Typeface People Love to Hate

  • MickeyM619

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by: MickeyM619 posted: October 06, 2011

Poor Comic Sans . . .

The typeface, Comic Sans, has been taking a beating for years now.  I, like a lot of designers out there, have an opinion about the Comic Sans font, and it seems the overwhelming majority of those opinions are negative. How has a single font become the focus of so much hate? And what, exactly, is behind it all?

Comic Sans was created by Vincent Connare in 1994 for Microsoft. It was originally designed to be used with Microsoft Bob, but it was completed too late to be included in the program.

Connare purports that he never intended the font to be released for general use, and only designed it to be used in comic-book-style speech bubbles within MS Bob.

The font ended up being included in Microsoft 3D Movie Maker, which used it in its pop-up windows and help sections. Later it was included with Windows 95 Plus Pack and then became a standard font for the OEM version of Windows 95.

Comic Sans has been used on a number of well-known products. Beanie Babies have used the font on their tags since the late 1990's. The 2004 Canada Day 25-cent collector coin also used the font. (As a Canadian, I speak for the country when I say, "We're sorry!")

The Sims video game uses it as well.

One of the main reasons Comic Sans became the target of such hatred was its widespread usage, particularly when dealing with serious or formal subjects.

While Comic Sans was perfectly adequate in designs for children or designs related to comic books or cartoons, it had no place in business or professional work usage. It’s also ill-suited in content body text – it’s best used as a headline/heading font or short quote (such as in a comic book). But nevertheless, Comic Sans has cropped up all over the place.

The "Ban Comic Sans" movement started in 1999. It was reportedly started by Dave and Holly Crumbs, graphic designers from Indianapolis, after an employer insisted they use Comic Sans in a children’s museum exhibit.

While the group is a bit tongue-in-cheek, they do point out one of the biggest problems in amateur graphic design: disregard for appropriate typography choices.

As a professional typographer and an instructor of Typography, I consider the impact of a font and typography choices have on the overall tone of a project. An amateur will often just pick a font they like, disregarding the font’s impact on the final design. It is said that bad typography is created by the same people that will cut their own hair . . . just because they can.

Filed Under Tags:  Branding Campaigns
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