Comic Sans: The Worst Font In The World

The worst font in the world: Comic Sans, was created in the early nineties for a small cartoon dog - so why do people still insist on using it professionally when it looks like a toddler's scrawl?
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The worst font in the world: Comic Sans, was created in the early nineties for a small cartoon dog - so why do people still insist on using it professionally when it looks like a toddler's scrawl?

Comic_Sans1

I’ve never met you, but I hate you. I know we’d never get on, not least because the urge to punch you repeatedly would overwhelm me. I also know that I’d happily dance across your freshly-dug grave because you - yes you – use Comic Sans.

The font was designed in the early-Nineties by a guy called Vincent Connare and do you know why? It was for a specific, now-obsolete, product called Microsoft Bob which used a small cartoon dog, predictably called Rover, to guide novice users through tasks like how to create and save files.

Initially Rover was going to speak in Times New Roman, but that didn’t look quite right so Connare set about designing something more ‘fun’ and used as his inspiration the comics, sorry graphic novels, Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns. When Microsoft Bob was discontinued Comic Sans somehow wormed its way into the Windows 95 package and ‘thanks’ to the home computer and desktop publishing booms the rest, as they say, is history.

But you can’t escape the simple truth: If you use Comic Sans, you’re using a font designed for an animated dog. #dickhead

Now, when I tell stupid people not to use Comic Sans they invariably confirm their stupidity by saying: “Don’t be silly, it’s just a font.” To which (once I’ve controlled the urge to kick them) my reply is: “It’s not ‘just a font’ it is a font which was designed for a specific purpose and significantly to replace another font which wasn’t appropriate in that context.” To put it another way, while it looks shit it was at least designed for the right reasons.

But why does it look shit? Well, comic book fonts are designed to be used in upper-case only and they also tend to be used in short, punchy sentences. (Don’t believe me? Go have a look.) Those types of fonts are just not right for a large wedge of text – say a book or newsletter.

But you can’t escape the simple truth: If you use Comic Sans, you’re using a font designed for an animated dog. #dickhead

What’s more Comic Sans was poorly designed. Without wanting to get too technical (I just want to be angry and swear a lot) good, legible fonts have an even weight distribution (the thickness of the stroke) throughout each letter. They also have good ‘letter fit’ which is the space between each letter and how they fit together in words. Comic Sans has neither and so it’s a difficult read and let’s not forget it was designed for use on screen not on paper.

One of the Ten Commandments should have been “Thou shalt not use Comic Sans” but given the omnipresence of the font the Ten Commandments were probably written in the bastard.

“Hey, Moses, this is the most important document ever written. Even if I don’t really exist (and let’s face it the chances are slim) it’ll shape the moral code of a large part of humanity for millennia to come. What say we use a font that makes it look like it’s been written by a five-year-old?”

“I dunno, God. I reckon Helvetica might be better. Or what about Garamond or Century Schoolbook? Y’know, weighty classics with a bit more gravitas.”

“Come now, Moses, I created the world. What could anyone possibly tell me about fonts?”

At the forefront of the pro-Comic Sans faction is the group of users I really despise: primary school teachers. The fuckwits have made it their go-to font because it looks child-like.

Now, to be fair, there is a limited (emphasis on limited) amount of research which suggests the fact the font is hard to read actually helps kids (emphasis on kids) take in information better, especially kids with dyslexia. As annoying as that is, if (emphasis on if) it’s true, then I say fan-bloody-tastic something good has come from something shit. Like penicillin and mouldy cheese.

One of the Ten Commandments should have been “Thou shalt not use Comic Sans” but given the omnipresence of the font the Ten Commandments were probably written in the bastard.

But forget the kids for a minute, what about us adults? Just because you teach children doesn’t mean that everything you write has to look like a toddler’s scrawl.

Let’s put it another way: you don’t meet parents dressed as a clown, or wearing a Hello Kitty or Ben 10 T-shirt covered in snot and half your lunch. Why not?  Because (a) you’re an adult and (b) you want to make a good impression of your school. So why use such a shit font on your signage, or worse still in letters home to parents? Oh, I know, because like God, you know everything. Well listen here, arse-wipe: you don’t.

Of course there’s a slim possibility I’m just a font snob. Maybe its popularity – its consistently inappropriate use – proves that Comic Sans is better than I give it credit. You know what I say to that suggestion?? I say: No, fuck off, don’t be such a dick.

Lot’s of people used to smoke. In fact there were even adverts which encouraged the habit by suggesting it made you look cool and was good for your health. Everybody else had to cough and splutter their way through life thinking “there’s something very wrong here”.

Now we all know that’s shite because the Malboro Men have died and if you do want to fly in the face of medical evidence and pollute your body you have to go outside in the cold and the rain like a pariah and let the rest of us breath in peace.

That’s what should happen to people who insist on polluting their school reports/newsletters/restaurant signs/gravestones/etc/etc with Comic Sans. They should be forced to the edge of life; outside of civilised society. They should be branded as the pariahs they are (in Comic Sans, just for the sake of irony) until they accept and acknowledge that they don’t know their arse from their elbow. That or they should be shot.

But forget the kids for a minute, what about us adults? Just because you teach children doesn’t mean that everything you write has to look like a toddler’s scrawl.

And here’s the thing, I guess it’s not the font I really hate (although let me be very clear: I do hate it) no, it’s the people who use it. The bastards who have no fucking idea how crap it makes them or their company/school/shop/relative’s headstone look.

A font is a visual tone of voice, each with its own pitch, each appropriate for a different occasion. It’s. That. Simple. You don’t talk to an adult the same way you talk to a child; you don’t use a child-like voice at a funeral or in a company presentation. So don’t use the same font when you’re writing for an adult as you do when you’re writing for a child and don’t use a child-like font on a headstone.

Just look at its fucking name - COMIC Sans. Forget the ‘sans’ bit (let’s face it if you don’t get why the font is shit ‘sans’ is probably too technical for you), the message is clear: it was based on a font for comic books. I’ll repeat: IT WAS BASED ON A FONT FOR COMIC BOOKS. Why is that so hard for you to understand?

Yes, it might have seemed ‘fun’ and ‘quirky’ back in 1994 when it first became widely available but then so did acid-wash jeans, Hammer-pants and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Thankfully they’ve been consigned to the dustbin of history (although Jim Carey’s still producing his own personal version of the font in cinemas on a regular basis) so let’s say we do the same with Comic Sans, eh?

A font should only be used after much consideration to appropriately reflect the context and content of what you’ve written.  Again, it’s depressingly simple.  If you want to go through life sounding like a child, well, fine but no one is going to pay much attention to what you have to say although there’ll be a long queue of people wanting to give you the arse-kicking you so richly deserve.

Especially if you’re a teacher.

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