From the Horse's Mouth

I hate Comic Sans

Posted in 1 by theskinhorse on August 7, 2010

Fonts have personalities. (If you disagree, I suggest you watch Helvetica. Well, even if you agree, I still suggest it.)

Think of your favorite font. What about this font attracts you to it? Is it the clean lines, the length-to-width ratio, the fullness? What does that font tell you about yourself? And what do the fonts people choose to use tell you about that particular person?

The person that prefers a Script – what are they like? Elegant or pretentious? Charming or obsessed with appearances?

What about the person that is attracted to Engraved types? Are they traditional or classy? Maybe they are strong or serious?

What does the choice of serif verses sans serif tell you about a person?

This may seem like I am reading too much into a trivial choice. And maybe I am, but I tend to believe that people express themselves and broadcast their personalities through the smallest of actions and choices.

This is why I hate Comic Sans. Let me explain.

First off, I find Comic Sans not the least bit aesthetically pleasing. It looks messy, and the boldface is downright illegible at times. Reading this font becomes a challenge, especially as the font size decreases. Perhaps the font is attempting to look informal, friendly and personal by making an effort to mimic the irregularity and unpolished finish of symbols draw by hand. I don’t quite understand that. The reader knows the author has used a word processor and has not written the piece by hand; readers are not fooled into thinking the message is somehow more personal because the font happens to be less professional and more illegible.

Perhaps the person that chose to use Comic Sans wants to convey a message of “fun.” Comic Sans fails at this attempt as well. Notice how much teaching-related material or crappy invitations are done in Comic Sans? Every time I would see a syllabus typed up in Comic Sans, my opinion of the instructor dropped a point in seriousness and professionalism. To me, it comes across as a signpost saying “I’m not that serious about this course. I’d rather you students think of me as your friend as opposed to your instructor. Hell, I may even be a pushover. Why don’t you try it by turning in something late?” Now, I am not saying this is the personality of every instructor that uses this font. Believe me, I have come across more than a few that were real hard-asses. Once I found this out, I felt lied to by their use of Comic Sans. It is as if they tried to pull the wool over the students’ eyes by choosing to use such a “chummy” and “fun” font.

As for the invitations done in Comic Sans, I cannot think of a worse way to present a party. Like the syllabus, the “fun” feels forced and not genuine. Reading this invitation is accompanied by an exasperated sigh or groan and an immediate train of thought of “how to get out of this.” Maybe the party will actually be a rockin’ time, but the Comic Sans invitation seems to always comes across with the underlying message of an annoying obligation.

Given these experiences, the image of Comic Sans in my head is like this:

The annoying colleague that everyone is obligated to deal with in a polite fashion. We must swallow down his attempts at “fun,” though they are dull, overused and, more often than not, unpleasant. He uses guilt to rope people into an activity, does not respectfully fill his position, gets offended by being thought of as an authority figure, and is emotionally immature. No one looks forward to participating in anything he announces, and everyone is tempted to ignore him or weasel out of a commitment.

And that is the reason I hate Comic Sans.

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2 Responses

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  1. patience said, on August 9, 2010 at 8:51 pm

    i never thought of font in detail. what is the font on my web pages haha? i don’t even know. arrr… i guess i should start thinking about font differently. i know that mostly i am a rushed person…and my hand writing always shows that. i make it really messy and careless when i don’t feel like caring and i put a lot of time into writing…and then it still looks junky. i guess i never appreciated the ascetics of writing as a kid, and so that followed me into the keyboard age, where any potential skill was lost on the ease of a keyboard. i always admired people with calligraphy skill.

    • theskinhorse said, on August 10, 2010 at 7:46 am

      I’m not sure what font family the one of your webpage fits into. I do know that, to me, it conveys a straightforward and candid attitude. It is easy to read, which is appreciated.

      For a little while I was intrigued by graphology. I remember the basics of it: assessing pressure variations, letter alignments, basic letter shapes, etc. However, it really only applies to handwritten symbols. We lose a lot of personal information in typeface; all that we glean from it comes from the voice of the author, the style, the layout and the chosen font. Though perhaps some of the guidelines in graphology about the preferred shape, fullness and proportions of letters can be applied to the chosen font.

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