Metafilter's favorite librarian has opinions about Comic Sans
November 12, 2019 9:29 AM   Subscribe

"The childlike, cartoonish typeface Comic Sans is the most hated font in the world." The introduction to today's Studio 360 With Kurt Andersen continues: "Twenty-five years after its release, it’s become notorious for showing up in seemingly inappropriate contexts, from office memos to newspapers and government documents."

"But librarian and technology educator Jessamyn West argues that hating on Comic Sans is elitist. Looking at the font’s history, she commends Microsoft designer Vincent Connare for absolutely nailing his assignment to create a fun, casual typeface.

“Comic Sans is completely appropriate for your goofy Christmas letter that talks about the things that have gone on in your family,” West says, “and you could probably put it in red and green typeface.” And if the font’s informality helps make computers approachable to the less technologically adept, she believes we should encourage its use."
posted by QuakerMel (118 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yeah, punching down on Comic Sans is like punching down on large type books.
posted by Glomar response at 9:38 AM on November 12, 2019 [16 favorites]


I think hating Comic Sans is too much of a meme now to function as an effective shibboleth. We should move on to hating Arial.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:49 AM on November 12, 2019 [21 favorites]


As Vincent Connare, Comic Sans creator, said: “If you love Comic Sans you don’t know much about typography. And if you hate Comic Sans you need a new hobby.”
posted by farlukar at 9:50 AM on November 12, 2019 [85 favorites]


I think my least favorite genre of pop culture is the revisit where we make people feel bad for disliking things.

Hating on people who use Comic Sans is elitist. Not everyone's a digital native; hating on people who don't know how to pick fonts is like hating on ESL folks for having imperfect English. We should be trying to celebrate their efforts, and aid them in improving their skills.

That said, Comic Sans is rubbish and deserves the scorn heaped on it. It's great for what it was designed for, but it's often misused. It's a font meant for digital environments, and doesn't print well. It's a font meant to convey levity, but it's used in serious documents.

Like yeah, the meme of hating Comic Sans has definitely passed its heyday, but if someone's using Comic Sans as their default professional email font, someone should be telling them that they're being unprofessional, rather than letting it slide because it's "elitist" to think poorly of that practice.
posted by explosion at 9:55 AM on November 12, 2019 [54 favorites]


I hardly ever give it notice except when some lunatic has set their system fonts on their phone/tablet to it. Why??!?!1
posted by Burhanistan at 9:55 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


He wants to taste the curb!
posted by Mayor West at 9:56 AM on November 12, 2019 [19 favorites]


Eh? I feel like at this point, anti-anti-Comic-Sans sentiment is as at least as reflexive and unhelpful as anti-Comic Sans sentiment is made out to be. Sure, Comic Sans is fine in a holiday letter to your family. However, pretending that its use in holiday letters to family is why it first rose to infamy seems more than a tad disingenuous.
posted by tocts at 9:57 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am incredibly grateful that there is a widely available dyslexia friendly font that's in fairly wide use. I think it's quite likely that many people who use it because they just like it are some flavor of dyslexic and don't realize it. Comic sans is *easy to read* and that's a great service to the world.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:57 AM on November 12, 2019 [48 favorites]


I hardly ever give it notice except when some lunatic has set their system fonts on their phone/tablet to it. Why??!?!1

Isn't it specifically a good font for people with dyslexia? I'd assume anyone who's set it as a system font for all their stuff is doing it for readability/accessibility reasons. When I learned that, I got a lot less stupidly judgey about the font.
posted by yasaman at 9:59 AM on November 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


I hardly ever give it notice except when some lunatic has set their system fonts on their phone/tablet to it. Why??!?!1

Some people find it easier to read. It's recommended by some dyslexia organizations, for example.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 9:59 AM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


I love the idea of Comic Sans. It's just really awkward-looking to me. In 2003, Apple made a fixed version of it, Chalkboard, that still looks like a fun hand-lettered font with lots of personality, but doesn't have the odd stilted feel that Comic Sans has. Connare claims that the existence of Chalkboard validates Comic Sans, but it only validates the concept of such a font, not his execution of that concept.
posted by zsazsa at 10:05 AM on November 12, 2019 [8 favorites]


ohhhh are we gonna start doing everything inappropriately in Papyrus now? please say yes.

i once pretty much ended a high school relationship by recognizing papyrus on a menu at the restaurant we were at and becoming amazed with the idea that knowing a font was A Thing. this was about 25 years ago though.

apparently he had been saying Important Things to me and i missed it all. he did not care about papyrus font recognition.

#fontpeopleproblems
posted by affectionateborg at 10:07 AM on November 12, 2019 [58 favorites]


(I can't say I find Comic Sans to be very pleasant to look at, but this never rises to the point of annoyance.)

A short email, a flyer, a note in Comic Sans, all fine. Anything longer I actually find hard to read. For some reason this kind of typeface messes up my reading comprehension something fierce! Anyone else get that?
posted by bulgroz at 10:08 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]




> Hating on people who use Comic Sans is elitist. [...] That said, Comic Sans is rubbish and deserves the scorn heaped on it. It's great for what it was designed for, but it's often misused.

So to summarize, it's bad to hate people who use Comic Sans badly, because while the font itself is good, the font is bad and this is the fault of the people who use Comic Sans badly.
posted by ardgedee at 10:10 AM on November 12, 2019 [13 favorites]


It's like Nickleback or Gigli. Humans like to pile on.
posted by Bee'sWing at 10:10 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Hating on typefaces was a lot more fun before fonts became a pop-culture thing.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:11 AM on November 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


'Font Wars'
posted by clavdivs at 10:11 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


apparently he had been saying Important Things to me and i missed it all. he did not care about papyrus font recognition.

My font game has gone downhill. There was a time (when I was doing layout for my yearbook in high school) that I could dead-ass name any font on any business sign or card. I need to brush up my skills.
posted by Fizz at 10:13 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Put me down as someone else who definitely finds Comic Sans way harder to read than, say, a nice standard serif font.
posted by stillnocturnal at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2019


If you visit n-gate.com (the opposite of Hacker News), the site comes up in Comic Sans or Chalkboard. The comment in the page source reads:
/* if you don't want to use it, why is it on your computer? */
And, of course, you can't delete it on an iOS device. Or a Mac. =)
posted by JoeZydeco at 10:20 AM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


The writing-in-Comic-Sans thing that Etrigan links above is the weirdest thing, but an informal, anecdotal poll of friends says it's a real effect; drafts are easier and faster to write in Comic Sans.
posted by mittens at 10:23 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


ohhhh are we gonna start doing everything inappropriately in Papyrus now? please say yes.

COMIC PAPYRUS
posted by sugar and confetti at 10:23 AM on November 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


Canada makes all of its federal legislation available in comic sans, and while I understand why, it is still a pretty epic brainfuck to read something like the Copyright Act in comic sans.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:29 AM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


there was a horrible tumbls post a while back informing everyone of the upsetting news that comic sans is an excellent essay/paper writing font bc it somehow helps your brain let the words out more or something. idk. it fucking works. it's disgusting. i slapped out 16 pages for something that should've been 4 and i did it in a single sitting after struggling to get out a single paragraph in times new roman.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:31 AM on November 12, 2019 [31 favorites]


Yeah, the Comic Sans writing trick absolutely works for me too. I'll have to try messing with font size to see if it's a line length thing as the twitter thread linked suggests.
posted by yasaman at 10:40 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


We should move on to hating Arial.

He llvetica has you covered.
posted by bonehead at 10:48 AM on November 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


Several years ago, I was at Claude Monet's garden and home in Giverny, France. Lovely place, picture-perfect, you might say. The gift shop is set up in his old greenhouse/sun room/studio.

All over the books, posters on the walls, and other assorted merchandise were taped pieces of signage, all done in like 85 point Comic Sans. It was laughably horrible.

So now it's problematic and inappropriate to express one's taste in typography? Sheesh. I don't care about cards, notes and personal correspondence. Do your own thing, people. But Comic Sans is butt-ugly.
posted by SoberHighland at 10:54 AM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Before I clicked through I was like "Metafilter's favorite librarian is NOT some guy named Kurt Andersen!"
posted by Emmy Rae at 10:58 AM on November 12, 2019 [57 favorites]


I feel like the main problem with Comic Sans is that Windows9x only ever came with like three fonts, so in the era of desktop publishing a lot of people made their own brochures and stuff without really knowing much about there being other fonts out there and it got overused. Whoops, sorry: "typeface."
posted by rhizome at 11:01 AM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


There’s also the font Distributed Proofreaders designed for proofreading - distinct characters and few characters per line.

DPCustomMono2
posted by clew at 11:07 AM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


Personally I cannot see the point of Wingdings at all, apart from to annoy. But what do I know? Let's ask Uncle Cortex for his views on the worst font.
posted by Wordshore at 11:10 AM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


It's great for what it was designed for, but it's often misused.

There is not a single solitary thing on this earth that you can't say this about.
posted by mhoye at 11:31 AM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


Windows9x only ever came with like three fonts, so in the era of desktop publishing a lot of people made their own brochures and stuff without really knowing much about there being other fonts out there and it got overused.

That's the Wingdings story in a nutshell, too. It's 1998, the company has us on Win95, I want Quark and a decent icon set but I've got a default install of Word 95 and a deadline, so Wingdings it is.
posted by mhoye at 11:42 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


It's a sure-fire way to get lots of comments on your post, whatever else you can say about it.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:48 AM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]




Hm. I have a paper due this weekend that I’m really dreading writing. It only needs to be six pages, but if comic sans helps those pages come easier, it’s worth a try!

(In general, I am trying not to be an asshole about comic sans, and that is basically 100% due to MF’s influence. It is super cool to me that a font change can make such a huge difference in someone’s experience of reading/writing.)
posted by obfuscation at 11:58 AM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I'm a font nerd and a comics nerd, therefore my hatred of Comic Sans counts double.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:05 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


Isn't it traditional to turn on Comic Sans for these threads?
posted by InfidelZombie at 12:10 PM on November 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


What's a type designer's favourite cheese?

...

Fontina!

*slinks away*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:11 PM on November 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


I had to gently suggest to the humanist celebrant for my father’s funeral that Comic Sans might not be the right choice for the readings and programme.

“Nobody’s said anything about it before.”
posted by Segundus at 12:19 PM on November 12, 2019 [23 favorites]


The line length vs readability is why you stick to 80x24 terminals for code and writing email in plain-text with your own damn linebreaks instead of that auto-flowing HTML nonsense. Harumph.
posted by zengargoyle at 12:22 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


There’s also the font Distributed Proofreaders designed for proofreading - distinct characters and few characters per line.

DPCustomMono2


Back when I was in advertising, our proofreaders would also spot odd kerning and touching characters, spacing issues, bad breaks and other assorted weirdness in our layouts which, of course, used the specific client's official typefaces. So substituting fonts was a complete no-no for proofreading.

I could see that used for proofing manuscripts, but in the end a proofreader needs to see the final, real product, not just misspellings and typos.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:23 PM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


Also, Comic Sans is bad... even for comics! Look at ANY good comic strips or comic books. No self-respecting layout would use the awkward looking Comic Sans. It's terrible for almost any use.

I get the whole "Kumbaya Metafilter Attitude Towards Everything" argument... don't judge people who use it. Does that apply to applying a rainbow gradient onto your wall of text? How about adding drop-shadows to blocks of copy, or outlined text in paragraphs? At some point, shitty-looking, hard to read text is just what it is. Shitty-looking and hard to read.

This linked article is a backlash to a backlash. You know what? Forget everything. Nothing matters, everything is horrible and I'm a bad person for everything I've said and done, and a worse person for typing this all out. I'd apologize again, but my hole won't dig any deeper. lolnothingmatters /s
posted by SoberHighland at 12:30 PM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


This is one of those things guaranteed to start an argument, a bitter one, in which "elitist" is generally used within a short time. And it's just amaaaaazing. I would like to make a collection of minor peeves that lead to volcanic disruption among people who might otherwise be assumed to be a little laissez-faire. Grocer's apostrophes are too obvious. There are others.

As an English teacher, I spent a fair amount of time explaining to my middle school students that just because a font was fun, that did not mean it enhanced the content (I survived the era of MySpace). I did my first grading pass by word count, not pagination, which often thwarted their assumption that teachers don't notice obvious things.

But if you wanted the middle schoolers to pay any attention to a sign, you printed it out in Comic Sans. (One of my favorite photos is of a broken water fountain with a sign taped to it that says "Does Not Work" in Comic Sans. The fountain is surrounded by a vast puddle and the sign itself is drenched, because middle school.)
posted by Peach at 12:31 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


SoberHighland: I get the whole "Kumbaya Metafilter Attitude Towards Everything" argument... don't judge people who use it. Does that apply to applying a rainbow gradient onto your wall of text? How about adding drop-shadows to blocks of copy, or outlined text in paragraphs? At some point, shitty-looking, hard to read text is just what it is. Shitty-looking and hard to read.

I once implemented the blink tag in Javascript.
posted by clawsoon at 12:34 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


Grocer's apostrophes are too obvious.

You mean those 'foot marks' people substitute for apostrophes?

Turtles, all the way down.
posted by SoberHighland at 12:35 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Are you kidding?

Bold, Outine, Drop Shadows is awesome. Copperplate Bold as a starting point!

Use that as a brush in MS Paint? WiN!!!
posted by Windopaene at 12:45 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I am here to propose that the next phase of font slagging focus on Times New Roman, the correct use case for which is limited to business letters relating to warranty claims in the years 1984-1988.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


"We should move on to hating Arial."

No way, Arial is Helvetica for the average person. Comes with a computer, have to be a typography nerd or graphic designer to even notice the difference and the only notable differences can be summed up as "there aren't really."

Either way, I think "not hating on people" is a generally agreeable notion and I have no problems with attempting to spread it. However, Comic Sans is still an ugly font for comics and in common use there are any number of better fonts doing the same concepts. As an intellectual-property extremist, I would prefer if all fonts were freely available to any who seek to use them, like literally anything else than can be freely replicated.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:46 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


SoberHighland: "You mean those 'foot marks' people substitute for apostrophes?"

To which I respond, “What do you mean, when you say ‘foot marks’?”

(I love that macOS makes it dead easy to type smart quotes. And personally, I don't mind straight quotes. But people who pair a straight quote with a backtick, `like so', drive me up the damn wall way worse than Comic Sans does)

One of the clinicians at our hospital uses Comic Sans for all his emails. In like 18 point font, usually colored medium blue or something. It's bad enough getting email from him on regulatory issues, can’t imagine how much fun it is to get a message from him as a patient (“Sorry to be bearer of bad news, but it's cancer!”)

I use Chalkboard a lot for Cub Scout handouts. If I am giving it to a kid, it’s an appropriate font. But it still isn’t Comic Sans. (Not that anyone can tell, aside from me... Chalkboard is the Helvetica to Comic Sans’ Arial.)
posted by caution live frogs at 12:58 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


No way, Arial is Helvetica for the average person. Comes with a computer, have to be a typography nerd or graphic designer to even notice the difference and the only notable differences can be summed up as "there aren't really."
The capital R of both typefaces would like a word.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 1:05 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


> I feel like the main problem with Comic Sans is that Windows9x only ever came with like three fonts, so in the era of desktop publishing a lot of people made their own brochures and stuff without really knowing much about there being other fonts out there and it got overused. Whoops, sorry: "typeface."

Windows 95 shipped with a dozen fonts and Win98 doubled that. You can't exactly blame the use of Comic Sans on there being nothing else available.

Comic Sans became the go-to font mostly out of it being the most attention-getting in the fonts menu. There was also Arial Black and Impact but those would have been even more awkward and shoutier and inappropriate for many of the contexts in which people complain about using Comic Sans.

The inappropriate uses of Comic Sans no more invalidates it as a font than the inappropriate uses of Excel and Visio invalidate them as software.

People use what they have, and while there are many places where the use of Comic Sans is kinda befuddling, fundamentally it comes from the users having neither a complex understanding of typography nor much interest in developing one; they want a casual, possibly handwritten-looking typeface for a thing and Comic Sans is there. And then they got used to Comic Sans and its use gradually spread into other contexts.
posted by ardgedee at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


> Arial is Helvetica for the average person.

Helvetica is Univers for the average person.
posted by ardgedee at 1:07 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


I will just throw out there that I work with a physician who changed his default clinical charting font to Comic Sans. It isn't clear to me why the electronic medical record software would allow this crime against humanity. He authors actual legal medical records in the same fun, bubbly typeface Aunt Sue uses to invite you to her Mary Kay sales party. I shudder in horror every time I have to look at one.
posted by killdevil at 1:11 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


We should move on to hating Arial.

While paying careful attention to kerning.
posted by hal9k at 1:14 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


From the link:

“Comic Sans is completely appropriate for your goofy Christmas letter that talks about the things that have gone on in your family,” West says, “and you could probably put it in red and green typeface.” And if the font’s informality helps make computers approachable to the less technologically adept, she believes we should encourage its use.

This is a silly suggestion. I'm all for people learning new things in fun ways that engage playfulness, approachable and friendly teaching styles. And I'm not trying to hate on dyslexics or whatever.

But some level of formality is important. Especially in a teaching scenario. Just as a person should learn to be thoughtful about thinking, writing, singing, dancing, film-making and all other types of expression, we should encourage thoughtfulness towards presentation and communication style.

We're at a point where something like Comic Sans and the entire arguments around it have become a cultural meme about expression and communication. Why not use this by-now-well-known meme to further people's understandings of expressing themselves?

This article/story is just some anti-hipster post-reflexive reflex or something, nothing earth shattering. But does it hurt to guide someone who might be new to typography and computers towards a little bit of understanding about how typefaces are "read" by other people? Is it SO elitist to tell someone "Avoid using this font for [reasons]"?

You could write the best résumé and cover letter in the world and still have it come across as trashy or careless if you don't pay attention to spacing, type size, type alignment, etc. Why is talking shit about Comic Sans such an elitist dis-empowering thing to do?

(Also, Helvetica is great—but the teeny-tiny suggestion of a serif at the bottom leg of its capital R always squicks me out. Just a little)
posted by SoberHighland at 1:18 PM on November 12, 2019 [9 favorites]


I'm here taking a mental break from writing an appeal brief and I just tried switching a paragraph from Calisto MT to Comic Sans and it was hilarious. Such a jaunty ¶ symbol. Fortunately I could look at the preview without having Comic Sans inserted into my list of “Recently Used Fonts.”
posted by exogenous at 1:19 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


No way, Arial is Helvetica for the average person. Comes with a computer, have to be a typography nerd or graphic designer to even notice the difference

That was the joke
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 1:21 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Before I clicked through I was like "Metafilter's favorite librarian is NOT some guy named Kurt Andersen!"

Right? I was thinking, "I know I was quite inactive for a few years around here, but surely it hasn't changed that much!"
posted by asnider at 1:31 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


The story in the Critical Kate twitter thread, that people at a dog shelter would readily sign a contract printed in Comic Sans that they balked at in a professional font, gives me pause.

I guess Comic Sans has its uses in a professional context after all.
posted by Merus at 1:38 PM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


I think Highway Gothic is Helvetica for the average person, but I wouldn't suggest that a person set a bunch of legal documents in it. Actually, scratch that. Yes I would suggest that people do that, especially if you are making official documents. I'm sure it's appropriate. Here's the wikipedia page for Highway Gothic, at the bottom you'll links to several downloadable versions.

I remember my first encounter with a wysiwyg document editor. The first thing I did was use all the fonts, in a sort of delighted spree. I'm sure I turned in school papers that way. Nobody told me I was wrong, and I think that's wonderful, because that kind of playing around is an important step on the road to being a font elitist of impeccable taste (not that people need to get there, not that I ever got there).

If comic sans and papyrus didn't exist, some other font would take their place. There are so many fonts that are quirky/maybe not the most appropriate for all uses, and if you are making a short list of fonts to include in your operating system, you'll probably want to include a few of them. If your OS then becomes as universal as Windows, well... I think those quirky fonts you chose will be hated.
posted by surlyben at 1:42 PM on November 12, 2019


All of my leases in France were in Comic Sans. THEN they hit me with the piece of paper which is a written copy of a oral contract. A bizarre experience all around.
posted by raccoon409 at 1:44 PM on November 12, 2019


Citi (as in the bank) used a proprietary version of Highway Gothic called Interstate for all their headlines and subheads back when they were a client whose account I worked on. Perhaps they still do? I shudder when I see it now.
posted by SoberHighland at 1:47 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I hereby suggest publishing a RFP for Plate of Beans font...the metafilterest of fonts.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 1:59 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


You could write the best résumé and cover letter in the world and still have it come across as trashy or careless if you don't pay attention to spacing, type size, type alignment, etc. Why is talking shit about Comic Sans such an elitist dis-empowering thing to do?

Given that nowadays resumes and cover letters are copy-pasted into an online hiring management portal, it seems like it doesn't matter what font you write your resume/cover letter in at all.
posted by muddgirl at 2:00 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I get the whole "Kumbaya Metafilter Attitude Towards Everything" argument

This is the funniest thing I have read on this site in a long time. I mean, have you *been* to MetaFilter?
posted by JDHarper at 2:06 PM on November 12, 2019 [12 favorites]


I remember reading someone ranting about fonts, and in passing saying "And of course we have to talk about Comic Sans. Comic Sans? Christ, people just want an 'a' that takes its hat off indoors! Is that too much to ask?"
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 2:13 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


But does it hurt to guide someone who might be new to typography and computers towards a little bit of understanding about how typefaces are "read" by other people?

I dunno, I don't think most people have a problem with Comic Sans, I think some people find it somewhat annoying, but overall most people don't care enough about Comic Sans one way or the other. It seems like Old Established Wisdom that everyone hates comic sans, but from the anecdotes in this thread, I think that most people don't notice or don't care when they encounter Comic Sans.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:16 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


That was the joke

I whiffed it! In my defense, I have seen arguments between people who genuinely did seem interested in spilling blood over the issue.
posted by GoblinHoney at 2:23 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


Again: in a situation where someone is learning computer basics, I think it's a good idea to inform the student about general typography standards. I would guess that a large number of people learning these basic skills from a librarian would be creating résumés and cover letters, and other more formal documents.

I would also assume general rules about spacing, type size and alignment would be taught. Why not suggest typefaces as well?

And yes, you copy/paste résumés into software a lot these days, but in the end most job seekers would also want a hard copy of the thing that looks clean and presentable. And not Comic Sans.
posted by SoberHighland at 2:23 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I think hating Comic Sans is too much of a meme now to function as an effective shibboleth. We should move on to hating Arial.

I would like to suggest Gill Sans. It’s a beautiful font but Eric Gill was a massive creep.
posted by Pendragon at 2:37 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Marmite!!!
posted by Burn_IT at 2:42 PM on November 12, 2019


Would it be possible for frimble to do a survey of the fonts we all use without requiring any further input from users?
posted by jamjam at 2:49 PM on November 12, 2019


Self-aware Comic Sans is the new black.
posted by jeremias at 3:04 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


If people are looking for new fonts to hate on, the douchebaggiest right-wing tactical assault font out there is Serpentine (bold italic).
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 3:07 PM on November 12, 2019


DirtyOldTown: "I am here to propose that the next phase of font slagging focus on Times New Roman, the correct use case for which is limited to business letters relating to warranty claims in the years 1984-1988."

Or for writing fake memos about a presidential candidate's military service.

(I realize that the Killian documents episode would have been so much funnier had the whole thing been in Comic Sans)
posted by chavenet at 3:08 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Clean and presentable" vs "trashy" is a class issue, not a font issue.
posted by muddgirl at 3:08 PM on November 12, 2019 [11 favorites]


I coded for many years using Comic Sans for two reasons. First has, for me, the best distinction between characters easily confused when tired late in a debugging session.

For example compare these in your favorite fonts to Comic Sans:
One, Upper Case (UC) Eye, and LC Elle = 1Il
Zero, UC Oh, UC Que - 0OQ

The other reason is happy code has fewer bugs.
posted by Homer42 at 3:11 PM on November 12, 2019 [10 favorites]


For example compare these in your favorite fonts to Comic Sans

Out of the common coding fonts (and comic sans), I think Fira Mono and Source Code Pro are the best in terms of distinguishing those characters.
posted by Pyry at 3:35 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


> Also, Comic Sans is bad... even for comics!
To be fair, the font's designer made it after he saw a home-DTPd comic with Times New Roman in the speech bubbles and thought “that shouldn't happen”. Comic Sans is definitely better for comics than Times.

> The capital R of both typefaces would like a word.
And the 1!
posted by farlukar at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I don't hate Comic Sans. I just think that it's inappropriate for everything, and should disappear.
posted by Citrus at 3:56 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


I still vividly remember when my mother died, the leaflet of the bereavement department of the hospital she died in was in comic sans. Fucking comic sans.

I don't want whimsy after hearing the death rattle, wondering how long she was going to delay the inevitable and watching my family being torn internally between wishing it was over and that it could never stop.

It's not cute, it's not clever. Just use a sans-serif font, probably a grotesque like futura. But not fucking comic sans.
posted by zeripath at 4:05 PM on November 12, 2019 [7 favorites]


Metafilter: Inappropriate for everything, and should disappear.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:08 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that Trump lawyer John Dowd, when replying to House committee subpoenas, was using Comic Sans to make a STATEMENT. No, he wasn't being lighthearted. He was being an asshole saying FU to Congress.

Comic Sans can encode various messages, depending on context.
posted by JackFlash at 4:35 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


"Clean and presentable" vs "trashy" is a class issue, not a font issue.

Well, that may be, but a job application is not a great time to try to overturn this perception.
posted by thelonius at 4:41 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


sorry not sorry
posted by tonycpsu at 4:43 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


> I coded for many years using Comic Sans

Let me reintroduce you to Comic Code, a monospaced version of Comic Sans designed specifically for programming.
posted by ardgedee at 5:02 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


I used to handwrite college papers in turquoise ink and Italic hand, because I was so delighted with how beautiful it was, and I can't imagine how unpleasant that must have been for my professors, assuming they bothered to read any of my papers. The purpose of good type (which takes an inordinate amount of labor to design and for which type designers get paid very little) for the most part is to make the type itself more like architecture to be lived in than something that draws attention to itself.
posted by Peach at 5:04 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


Oh pfui.

Long long ago, I used to create a pocket-sized phone directory for a very large organization.
I tested a wide variety of fonts for readability, and Comic Sans was by far the most readable on the little pocket sized pages.
posted by hank at 5:25 PM on November 12, 2019 [3 favorites]


According to my Facebook feed, typing in Comic Sans is a reliable cure for writer's block.
posted by Pastor of Muppets at 5:55 PM on November 12, 2019


I would like to suggest Gill Sans. It’s a beautiful font but Eric Gill was a massive creep.

Agreed that incest is abusive and its perp deserves disgust for abusing his kids. But that piece also throws in a huge chunk of homophobia, unquestioned, that could have been just as well been left out. Sex between two consenting adults isn't perversity, even if one of them also commits other acts that are, indeed, perverse.

Comic Sans still sucks. Trying to reform public opinion about it is lame. There are so many creative efforts from humanity that deserve critical reevaluation and preservation, and this crap font is really, really not one of them. Sorry not sorry. And after hearing what FOX News conservatives have been calling elitists the last N decades, the word "elitist" is now so devalued that I don't care if hating on a poorly-made work gets me called an elitist by other people who would also be called elitists, for their own line of work.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 6:04 PM on November 12, 2019


As my need for glasses increases, can I say that SERIF fonts are fabulous.

As an accountant wearing glasses, serif fonts for numbers are life savers. First thing I do with an Excel spreadsheet - dump it in to Garamond. I am fed up trying to figure out whether it is 0,6, or 8, especially if I need to then cram all the info into a single summary page
posted by Barbara Spitzer at 6:19 PM on November 12, 2019 [5 favorites]


I am incredibly grateful that there is a widely available dyslexia friendly font that's in fairly wide use. I think it's quite likely that many people who use it because they just like it are some flavor of dyslexic and don't realize it. Comic sans is *easy to read* and that's a great service to the world.

"Clean and presentable" is also an accessibility issue, and, like pretty much everything accessibility-related, "easily readable" vs. "I'm a special unicorn who's expressing myself through fonts!" is an important consideration for things like public signage, etc.

I mean, if it's your personal wedding invitation or whatever, feel free to go nuts and let your freak flag fly.

But if you're designing things for public consumption, legibility/readability is an important consideration. And, as stoneweaver points out above, sometimes Comic Sans is helpful in that regard.

Other times, it isn't.

*shuffles cue cards, squints into spotlight*

In conclusion, Comic Sans is a land of contrasts. Thank you.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:40 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Hating on Comic Sans is pretty done at this point, but I don't think that means we should, just as a general rule, not try to educate people on how to produce legible, attractive output when using a computer to design stuff. There's literally a centuries-long body of knowledge on how to make written text easy to read and pleasant to look at; it's not all just arbitrary "elitism". Anti-elitism and know-nothingism are uncomfortably close cousins.

There are reasons besides "lol morons" why Comic Sans is rarely a good choice of typeface, and they've been documented to death. There's a time and place for Comic Sans, it's just... infrequent that it's the best choice. And it's not 1995, even a bare Win10 install is going to come with a wide variety of alternatives. Google's webfonts have made it obsolete online, too.

I've found that most of the time when people use Comic Sans unironically, what they really want is just a rounded, "friendly", sans serif typeface, and CS gets chosen out of familiarity. If you approach the situation in the right way, you can often find a typeface that works and fits that particular situation, but isn't CS.

But that conversation is likely to go better if you don't start from a point of "that font sucks and you're dumb and bad for using it".
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:10 PM on November 12, 2019 [4 favorites]


I make good use of the KG family of fonts - they are available quite widely, go have a look. As someone with my toe in early childhood education there are plenty of good uses for a clear and legible hand-printed style font.

Comic Sans is kind of meh, don't hate it but there are many many fonts doing the same job in a much better way.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:15 PM on November 12, 2019 [1 favorite]


I had to gently suggest to the humanist celebrant for my father’s funeral that Comic Sans might not be the right choice for the readings and programme.

And they call themselves humanist?
posted by aws17576 at 7:18 PM on November 12, 2019


My pet peeve is not Comic Sans, but the typographically uninformed who think of all comic-like families as 'a kind of Comic Sans', and look down on the good ones because of this. The worst offenders apply this to all script families.
posted by signal at 7:28 PM on November 12, 2019


Imagine...
a tournament where fonts from all across spacetime
come to compete against each other
in THE PARALLELOGRAM
to determine,
once and for all,
which Font reigns supreme!
posted by some loser at 8:13 PM on November 12, 2019 [2 favorites]


What gets me is how people who are otherwise at the low end of the computer literacy scale can somehow always manage to find Comic Sans and use it in their documents. Like somehow you officemate, given a 1985 Wang word processor, would still find a way to print a sign saying "YOUR MOTHER DOESNT WORK HERE" to post above the office sink in Comic Sans. It's weirdly memetic.
posted by GuyZero at 10:01 PM on November 12, 2019 [6 favorites]


Comic Sans is the moist of cilantros.
posted by drowsy at 11:52 PM on November 12, 2019 [15 favorites]


Speaking of elitism, somewhere I have a t-shirt with this panel from the Get Your Warn On webcomic.
posted by exogenous at 3:44 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Comic Sans is the moist of cilantros.
posted by drowsy at 2:52 AM on 11/13


I need this on a shirt so very much. Please provide ordering information asap.
posted by pixlboi at 7:15 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Let me reintroduce you to Comic Code, a monospaced version of Comic Sans designed specifically for programming.

oh no .... this one's kind of sexy :(

i like the idea of comic sans but think it's ugly and hard to read, so i made a font out of my own handwriting (also so i don't have to hand-letter text in my art) and now i feel special every time i use it. although whether it's legible to other people is up for debate, i guess.
posted by gaybobbie at 7:32 AM on November 13, 2019 [1 favorite]


Helvetica is Univers for the average person.

(adjusts cravat …)
Univers is Akzidenz-Grotesk for the average person.
posted by scruss at 7:56 AM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


Did someone say Papyrus?
posted by pxe2000 at 8:49 AM on November 13, 2019 [3 favorites]


Akzidenz-Grotesk is just Didot for people who don't like lead or speak French.
posted by GuyZero at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2019


For example compare these in your favorite fonts to Comic Sans:
One, Upper Case (UC) Eye, and LC Elle = 1Il
Zero, UC Oh, UC Que - 0OQ


Good point - in Arial, I and l are exactly the same.

But they all look different in my personal favourite - Courier New. Takes me right back to 1996.
posted by jb at 9:20 AM on November 13, 2019


Maybe so, GuyZero, but Berthold shot the serif.
posted by scruss at 9:32 AM on November 13, 2019 [2 favorites]


Well that devolved into typographical Dad jokes right quick...

Anyone who says with a straight face they don't dislike Comic Sans have never been forced to fix a computer whose user has set it as the system font despite using a 14" CRT running at 1024x768 in Windows 95 with its random usage of bold and italic faces that turns a blurry mess into completely unreadable mush. There may be times when Comic Sans improves readability for those with certain visual processing challenges, but that ain't one of them.
posted by wierdo at 9:54 AM on November 13, 2019


I just don't get the hate for this.

Also, what, no bitching about Wingdings?
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:53 AM on November 13, 2019


A) For little phone lists, don't discount using TeX and a printer that does DVI at 1200 dpi. Eyesight willing you can fit a crapton of names and numbers on a business card sized slip of paper.
B) Don't even get me started on Japanese fonts and how horrible the gothic/mincho and vast majority of fonts are horrible. Raise the flag and do some searching and find yourself a kyoukashotai 教科書体 [きょうかしょたい] /(n) textbook typeface so that the kanji/kana actually look like something reasonable instead of that blocky sans-serif or that crappy serif.

crawls back into a dark place missing 6x9 xterm bitmap fonts.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:57 PM on November 13, 2019


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(that's echo -e "zengargoyle\n I never\n left ye"| pbmtext -font 6x9.bdf | pnmcrop | pnmmargin -white 1 | pnmnoraw | tail +3 | tr '01' ' @' with 6x9.bdf from Unicode fonts and tools for X11. Assume I just ran it through lolcat, too.)

posted by scruss at 2:27 PM on November 13, 2019 [4 favorites]


(If we're talking about typography pet peeves, I actually kind of hate the default LaTeX look)
posted by Merus at 5:44 PM on November 13, 2019


As a UI/UX designer, not only can I tell you *why* it works, I can tell you how to get the effect from any font.

The longer the line length, the bigger the point size/larger the x-height/add more leading. Learning to spec type existed well before Comic Sans.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:34 PM on November 13, 2019




Now he’s encased in carbonite.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:35 AM on November 14, 2019


Merus, I agree - every paper I’ve ever seen that was published with the default LaTeX look just strikes me as ... aesthetically bad, in the same way that a PowerPoint deck from 1999 will invariably have had the default Times New Roman on blue background. The tool is amazingly powerful, but it is used to produce ugly (yet accurately laid out!) content. Certainly it can do so much better, right?
posted by caution live frogs at 6:00 AM on November 15, 2019


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