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What’s funny about Comic Sans font?

By February 2, 2011culture, web-tech

Screen shot 2011-02-01 at 7.16.20 PM Recently, I discussed the importance of typeface—which is more than just the proper selection of fonts. However, font choice is one important part of typeface selection. How important? Well, just ask Dan Gilbert, the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. You know, the guy who—after LeBron James appeared on ESPN to announce The Decision—wrote a letter to Cleveland fans (which was posted to the team's website).

Many sports writers criticized the letter, and one writer called it a variant of the psycho, ex-girlfriend letter. Those folks were dismayed by the tone of the letter, and its contents. Then there were the people shocked by the choice of font that Gilbert used: Comic Sans (see e.g., here, and here).

Who knew Comic Sans was so reviled?

Apparently, lots of people. That is, more people than you would think have sensibilities about font choice. Turns out that Comic Sans is a lame variant of a font that was used in comic books. Microsoft apparently added the lameness element, but that's just my take from this Wikipedia article.

Even if Dan Gilbert had used the original comic book font I don't think he'd have been less criticized. First, the letter did have an effusively beseeching tone. Second, using any variation of a comic book font is going to dilute whatever vestiges of professionalism the words of the letter intended to convey.

I didn't know that Comic Sans was so disparaged. But I doubt I'd ever choose it for any kind of professional communication. So what's the lesson here? Some people are completely unaware of how font choice—subtly or overtly—affects a reader's impression of the writer's message. In other words, they have really bad taste in typography.

Maybe those people should stick to Arial. It's not revered, but then it's not on the list of Top 7 Worst Fonts either.


P.S. If you appreciate my observations, you might want to join my inner circle.

2 Comments

  • Vincent says:

    My wife gave up using comic sans once P.Z. Meyers started using it on his incredibly popular pharyngula blog to quote the words of crazy fundamentalists who write to him.

  • Julie K says:

    I know my kids were taught to never use comic sans in high school journalism and newspaper. They ridicule its use too.

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