Yet another geek blog

2 July 2007

What is Wrong with Comic Sans?

Questions Clients Ask. Part 1.

This issue came up where I work recently because a client wanted it. This immediately triggered a discussion about the best way to get the client to change their mind.

As we all know, Comic Sans is a bad font and must never be used. But why is it a bad font? Why do clients ask all the time? What is a 'bad font' anyway?

One of the reasons people ask for it is that they like it. And one of the reasons that they like it is this:

There is nothing wrong with Comic Sans.

There, I have said it.

Reasons for not using Comic Sans

Comic Sans is overused

Complete rubbish. The vast majority of websites use Arial or Times New Roman. So overused are these fonts that people become blind to them. And when they do notice, they cite it as evidence of how good the fonts must be.

Comic Sans is Badly designed

For what? So it might not be a masterpiece of kerning. But it is very readable. Call be old fashioned, but I like what I read to be readable.

Comic Sans displays poorly at small font sizes

By far the feeblest complaint. All fonts have a lower resolution limit. Sans-serif fonts generally do better at low resolutions.

Reasons to use Comic Sans

  • When something needs to look unofficial and unthreatening
  • When something needs to be clear to children or people that do not have English as a first language

Comic Sans was designed to imitate the clear handwritten lettering found in the speech bubbles of comic. The rounded strokes look friendly and informal. The resemblance to the lettering you saw when you first learned to write makes it highly readable.

If this font is misused, it is because of the lack of better alternatives.

But there are many better fonts!

Indeed there are. Hundreds.

  • Arial Rounded MT Bold has the friendly rounded edges
  • Lucida Handwriting has the informal handwritten appearance.

But none of them are among the so called 'core fonts' that are installed on the vast majority of computers. CSS solves the problem of font availability by allowing you to specify backup choices for the fonts you want to use. So no matter how good the fonts you want to use are, you will still need fonts like Comic Sans as a safety net.



posted by Yet Another Geek @ Monday, July 02, 2007


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