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Comic Sans: The Worst Font In The World

by Roger Domeneghetti
26 August 2013 41 Comments

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?

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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image descriptionCOMMENTS

Keith Wildman 2:33 pm, 26-Nov-2011

Oddly Saltaire Brewery decided on Comic Sans as the font for their logo. Good enough reason for me not to drink the stuff.

Dan 2:42 pm, 26-Nov-2011

Pretty compelling argument. Unfortunately, you have picked up an equally irritating habit - hashtags only work on Twitter.

Mark 4:05 pm, 26-Nov-2011

You're so right. I'm a writer and I think that primary school teachers with no background in typography or design who use Comic Sans are almost as bad as a pretentious wannabe journalists who write lengthy articles littered with grammatical errors. They should leave it to the professionals, yeah?

griff 4:14 pm, 26-Nov-2011

i think comic sans has flourished *because* of the vehement hatred continuously spouted by graphic designers. day 1 at graphic designers school, the first thing they are taught : CS = bad. then they spend the next 40 years grumbling about it. it would probably have died a death long ago had there not been so many people that hate it! i use it sometimes just to freak our web guy. it'll ruin his entire month. don't you realise its a running joke made specifically to wind up the design community.

RipTheMichael 5:20 pm, 26-Nov-2011

COuldn't be arsed to read this, if you'd have done it in Comic Sans then may have been an interesting read

C Forehead 6:54 pm, 26-Nov-2011

^^ Well said. I've never set foot on that bloody website and I really get angry when it's shoe horned into every other one I visit.

Mongalong 9:00 pm, 26-Nov-2011

Nobody uses comic sans any more, haven't done for years. Have you seen All Your Base Are Belong To Us? Meh. *Goes outside for a nice smoke*

Hugh7 10:05 pm, 26-Nov-2011

@Mark: "almost as bad as a pretentious wannabe journalists who write lengthy articles littered with grammatical errors." Physician, heal thyself!

Drew Melbourne 2:50 pm, 28-Nov-2011

I love comic books. My problem with Comic Sans is that it's a REALLY lousy approximation of a comic book font. There are TONS of REAL comic book fonts used by real letterers for actual comic books, and they're all 1,000 times better than awkward, misshapen Comic Sans. If one of those replaced Comics Sans on diner kiddy menus and church raffle announcements, I'd be thrilled.

db05 5:34 pm, 28-Nov-2011

I once left a restaurant on the basis that the menu was written in Comic Sans

HarryB 5:37 pm, 28-Nov-2011

Sniff Petrol summed it up nicely with this http://www.sniffpetrol.com/AdComicsans.jpg

Beth Cravens 5:39 pm, 28-Nov-2011

The sad thing is that there is always a better choice, but people think it's cute and friendly. While we're on the subject can we do something about Papyrus? Oh, and those people who feel the need to use EVERY font they have on one flier? A ransom note has more style.

Julia Owen 6:40 pm, 28-Nov-2011

Hmm, has someone been reading 'Just my type'?

Mama Bear 10:15 pm, 28-Nov-2011

Hahaha, don't you all think you're a little obsessed with this comic sans thing... maybe you should see a shrink for ocd or something because damn. Although, thanks for the laugh.

Blake Carrington 12:49 pm, 2-Dec-2011

Comic Sans... even arseholes have to have their own font. I won't use businesses or frequent eateries who use it, and plenty still do... the idiots. They may as well scrawl their message in their own faeces.

Ben 3:09 pm, 13-Dec-2011

It's not that it's a 'bad' typeface, it's just over-used in totally inappropriate situations... it's perfect for 'kiddy' things, but not much else. (And there are better).

Mark 4:05 pm, 13-Dec-2011

The best piece of writing on Comic Sans I've read is this: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/im-comic-sans-asshole

Maz 4:35 pm, 13-Dec-2011

At least it's not Gill Sans and designed by a dog sexing peaodophile.

themainliner 6:25 pm, 13-Dec-2011

I am always amazed and often amused that retar...sorry people can become so worked up over nothing. To be honest I hate to see anything on screen or printed in the unreadable and irredeemably ugly Times New Roman font. Comic Sans fails to trip my irritation threshold as it's easy to read.

washishu 4:47 pm, 31-Dec-2011

I'd just like to see typefaces being called typefaces again like we used to before Microsoft and the Americans took over. But if it must be used can it at least be spelled fount like it used to be before Microsoft and the Americans took over?

The Baron 1:17 am, 31-Jul-2012

Shut up a ya face, Roger Spaghetti.

Bill 12:37 pm, 1-Aug-2012

Comic Sans hard to read? Bulls**t! It's popular simply BECAUSE it's easy to read. Wakey wakey dickhead!

humza 3:25 pm, 27-Sep-2012

jesus christ you hipster snobs.

Amy 9:41 pm, 12-Oct-2012

Funnily enough an awful lot of people listen to what I say and I adore comic sans. People, including yourself, may wish to kick me in the arse, but I'm brilliant at what I do...even with the arse kicking! It is a font, get over it and relax.

JP 3:37 am, 31-Oct-2012

Say no to font bullying

Noah 5:18 am, 5-Jan-2013

I'm glad comic sans exists because I'm teaching English at elementary school in Japan, and I don't want to confuse the kids with variations of letters like "a". It's great for ESL flashcards, but I wouldn't use it otherwise.

Jason 1:10 pm, 11-Feb-2013

As a teacher, it is important, sometimes, to use a font that is close to handwriting. Comic sans is such a font. If you want to look at style, then perhaps take a look at your own article: using hash tagsin text is a cliche.

Dolan 2:58 pm, 12-Feb-2013

Even though I disagree with you, thanks for the laugh, lol.

flippant sack 11:38 am, 25-Mar-2013

Your gay and AIDS

Ali Babba 3:40 pm, 15-Jun-2013

WOW!! Thanks for the laugh. not sure how I ended up here but a bigger collection of loosers I've never seen in one place. It's a font... Don't like it don't use it but either way, this is one pathetic group of individuals. Kudos to the autor for the ability to gather so many mouth breathers in one place. later.

RB 8:55 am, 1-Aug-2013

In spite of the hashtags and grammatical errors, I actually really liked this article because it focuses on something other than the traumas of the menstrual cycle or fucking feminism. Comic Sans is clearly for cunts; think you were a little harsh on smokers though.

TheGarwBoy 8:33 am, 26-Aug-2013

A typeface for the great unwashed and untrained. Embarrassingly for a graphic designer and in a fit of irony I once used it to write to the local council contesting a parking fine. Needless to say the it set the right fun, jovial tone to get me off - thank you Comic Sans.

Uncarign reader 12:20 am, 10-Sep-2013

you sound like a angry fart. Your pissed about the fact a toll is available for people that do not either care about the certain "look" of something or are using the font because it achieves a certain "look" of something. Your just angry because it has had extreme use. Kind of a over all worthless read.

gregp 4:19 pm, 9-Oct-2013

I used to burn when someone at work circulated a document in Comic Sans, but now I have matured and I have more tolerance towards it, akin to my attitude towards someone who has chosen to deface their own body with a &%$#@ tattoo!

Mrs. sourface 1:59 pm, 12-Nov-2013

The font of idiots!

xinyi 2:32 pm, 25-Dec-2013

Although your hate of it is startling, I'd have to say I agree with most of your opinions. Comic Sans has got to be the worst widespread-used fonts out there.

Mike 10:35 am, 14-Feb-2014

Does this a hole know that findings show that CS is the easiest font to scan and read.....a great help to those that struggle with literacy and require more accessible forms of communication. This would include persons that present with cognitive disability etc. So.......Mr A hole think before you publish such detritus and make yourself look a complete prat! Shame to see you seem to have a following of equally uninformed and suitably qualified prats....

Eric Johnson 4:42 am, 8-Mar-2014

Roger, you are obviously a font snob. This page is very crappy, because it is entirely about how you want to beat up every single person that uses and contributes to Comic Sans. When you say Comic Sans is like toddler scrawl, you are absolutely wrong. It is bad, but it is much more like mechanical handwriting that is made up of perfectly drawn kidlike letters.

Doesn't care about CS 8:08 pm, 6-May-2014

*coughFIRSTWORLDPROBLEMScough*

Your Sense of Common Sense 10:31 pm, 13-May-2014

Roger, You know what I find sad? The fact that you're getting so pissed off over this. It's a ****ing font, dummkopf! If you REALLY get this upset over it, you need serious help. Also, to further support my point: Which is more serious of a problem; A collection of binary code producing a representation of text, OR the high unemployment rate due to people not looking for jobs? This should be a no-brainer.

Happyb 5:20 pm, 24-Jul-2014

Nice write up - you're 100% correct. I had a small company and we landed a job with a multi-billion dollar company in Cincinnati. We did a series of complex reports - I wrote the code, my partner formatted. He sent the first draft to our contact in Comic Sans and copied me on it. We lost the business. My fault for partnering with a moron.

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