Why is Comic Sans the font everyone loves to hate?
Updated: Jul 12, 2019
Analysing the irritation designers have about Comic Sans.
“Walked into a very expensive restaurant, sat down, was handed a menu. Comic Sans. Got up and left. Life is hard.” - Dustin Curtis
Remember Comic Sans?
The font that used to be your first pick when making a birthday card for your mum. The font you chose for the poster of your school band’s gig?
Yep. That one.
Yeah, turns out everyone hates it.
So. What happened? How did one font grow to be so famous and infamous within the same decade? Let’s learn why designers came to hate one particular font that was released twenty-four years ago by Microsoft Corporation.
Vincent Connare was a designer with Microsoft when he created arguably the most hated font ever (until Papyrus caught up) - Comic Sans. Connare's work includes the creation of other fonts such as Trebuchet MS, Webdings, Marlett among others.
While at Microsoft, he came across a beta version of Microsoft Bob (a user-friendly version of the OS), and saw that the speech bubbles used by the cartoon characters in certain apps were lettered in Times New Roman. He thought the typeface selection was too serious for the purpose.
And that is when the idea for Comic Sans struck him. Unfortunately, he couldn't create the font in time to be included in Microsoft Bob. But, the font was used by the team of Microsoft 3D Movie Maker in their guides and speech bubbles, before going on to become one of the default fonts for Microsoft Publisher, Internet Explorer, and Comic Chat.
So, what is it that makes Comic Sans the font people hate so much? Hmm.
Designers argue that Comic Sans is just a very badly designed font. It's as simple as that. But, that could just be a single person's opinion right? Traditionally, a font is selected based on the purpose of the communication.
Soon after Comic Sans' rise to popularity, the font was used widely in emails, official government documents, general purpose communication, restaurant nameplates, advertising billboards, emergency services, and also on signs indicating danger.
This grotesque, widespread use of the font is what made designers around the globe hate it so much, while also provoking a few to create a movement to ban Comic Sans. That's unbelievable, right? Not until you read everything else that is wrong with the font.
So, here's an article comparing Comic Sans with Helvetica (the font most people love to use), that demonstrates other aspects of typography like strokes, weight management, legibility, letterfit etc. that justify the font's tarnished reputation. And if you want to know how much people hate it, read this. Time Magazine names Comic Sans one of history's 50 worst inventions. Some people created a program that searches the internet for websites written in Comic Sans, and changes them to Helvetica. While a few of them are trying to raise money to make a documentary on how bad the font is! I mean, after a while it starts sounding ridiculous! Seriously people, don't you have better things to do than try to erase a 'font' from the face of this planet? Which is roughly what the inventor says to the haters, "get yourselves a hobby!"
But. Wait a sec. This outbreak over a font tells us an important thing.
With computers, the world was handed a piece of technology that allowed us to do things that were done by professionals before. The same happened with designing and printing. Ordinary folks with little to no understanding of design, fonts and aesthetics were given professional-level tools that were easy to use. As a result of this crazy ability, we saw Comic Sans being used in situations like, say, somebody's funeral invitation card. And that’s probably what pissed everyone off to start with.
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