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The Grammar Bitch: The Use of Comic Sans is Punishable by Death

I can practically feel you rolling your eyes at me right now. “Another pretentious snot who gets all shitty about a stupid cute font,” you’re probably thinking. And, well, you’re right. I’m pretentious, I’m a snot, and I fucking hate Comic Sans. I don’t want you to feel like I’m a pretentious snot for no reason, though, so I’m going to attempt to explain why that one font can get me so enraged. We’re talking, “Flames, flames on the side of my face” angry. Now, I’m not a designer. I’ve never studied typography. I just like words, and I have eyes, and those two things qualify me to hate Comic Sans.

Let me put this as simply as possible: Comic Sans is the Sarah Palin of fonts. It’s offensive, it hurts my eyes, it’s never appropriate, and it’s inexplicably popular and annoyingly omnipresent. Every time I think people have learned their lesson, I turn around, and there it is again. Stalking me. Antagonizing me. Making me suddenly aware of my rising blood pressure.

Let’s start with: it’s fucking ugly. It looks cheap, which it is. (Well, free is cheap, right?) It looks childish and stupid, which I guess isn’t so bad if you’re using it for its original intended purpose: text bubbles, like the kind you see in comic books. Honestly, though, when was the last time you saw Comic Sans in a comic?

Then there’s the fact that it’s all over the fucking place. It’s inescapable. It’s on inter-office memos. It’s on restaurant menus. It’s on signs for businesses. What. The. Fuck? Why would anyone think that using a font that looks like a toddler who’s a little bit on the simple side created it is a good idea in any kind of professional environment?

Plus, it’s so easily recognized. It’s played out. It’s overexposed. It’s lazy. It’s Boone’s Farm, unironically. It’s Ed Hardy. It’s goddamned Nickleback. It’s just fucking awful.

Pretty much anyone who knows me has seen at least one total freakout at seeing Comic Sans in the wild. I stammer. I point. My eye starts twitching. I call out to the skies, “WHYYYYYYY? WHO WOULD BE SO AWFUL? WHY DOES THE UNIVERSE HATE ME?” OK, I’m a little dramatic. I don’t deny that, but I do have a legitimate complaint. Comic Sans is the refuge of the unimaginative, the font of the sheep. It treats the world at large as a kindergarten class.

“But what am I supposed to use? I like Comic Sans. It’s cute.” The first step is admitting you have a problem. Step away from the ugly font. And don’t you go eyeballing Papyrus, either. It’s just as bad. Ban Comic Sans has plenty of alternatives. If you’re really dead set on using a preinstalled font from your word processing program, look for one you don’t notice. Really. The best fonts are clear, easy to read, and inoffensive. You notice the words, not the ugly-ass looking font.

I’m putting you on notice, world. Keep using Comic Sans, and I will find a way to uninstall it from each and every computer in existence. Don’t believe me? Try to find it on one of my work computers. Not there? Hmm. I wonder what happened.

(Check this out for a more mature examination of the evolution of one person’s taste for fonts over time: My Evolution of Type Taste from Grade School to Present)

This post originally appeared on Nice Girls Don’t Swear, where I make perfectly clear that I’m not a nice girl.

(Author’s note: I originally had a brilliant manifesto planned on how to properly use quotation marks and punctuation together in harmony. Unfortunately, I’m in the process of moving for the first time in a decade, and everything is going wrong. Next week, I promise we’ll have our quotation mark extravaganza, and it will be glorious.)

By [E] Rachel

I punctuate sentences with Oxford commas, and I punctuate disagreements with changesocks. Proud curmudgeon. Get off my lawn.

30 replies on “The Grammar Bitch: The Use of Comic Sans is Punishable by Death”

OH. Thank you for putting this so perfectly. Sarah Palin/Nickleback/Ed Hardy of fonts.

Also, as an artist, it’s reassuring to know that you don’t need a design perspective to abhor the demonic presence of Comic Sans. As a bit of fitting history: Comic Sans actually was created for Microsoft’s most annoying program– Microsoft Bob.

I went to a professional conference last year. I work in a fairly creative-type industry, and there were lots of exciting and motivational guest speakers. And then there was this woman, talking about “innovative marketing,” who gave a PowerPoint presentation to an auditorium of about a thousand people (most of the other speakers just spoke, or had fairly high-tech media presentations). Her PowerPoint was in Comic Sans. Probably 300 people or more walked out. The conference organizers looked SO CONFUSED until someone explained it to one, who then ran off, looking frantic.

Once upon a time on the internet, I read a love story involving anthropomorphizations of Papyrus and Comic Sans. And it was amazing. And I just went on a short Google safari without any luck, but if anyone knows what I’m talking about, down that road lies madness.

One time Gawker asserted that Comic Sans was the favourite font of Admin. Assistants. I was an AA at the time and remember being way too offended.

For what it’s worth, I have to correspond with a whole pile of Admin Assistants and I’ve never seen any use Comic Sans. We all seem to be Calibri, Arial, or Times New Romans people. Just need to dispel the myth, you know.

Truth. My dad worked in a newsroom and I remember him sitting me down one afternoon after I had written a school paper in Calibri and letting me know that real professional writers use TNR. Always. Without fail. And I’d be laughed out of any professional atmosphere with any other font.

Hyperbole?
Yes.

But effective. To this day I can’t write until TNR is adjusted properly.

My wholehearted defense of Comic Sans applies when it is used in classrooms and similar situations. It’s established as an early literacy- and reading disability- friendly font for lots of reasons, the easiest to explain being the distinct difference between lowercase B and D. They’re not just reverse images of each other, but have distinct features.

So while it doesn’t belong in adult correspondence, it absolutely does have a place.

I don’t really understand it. It’s not a beautiful font or anything, and it’s not professional, but unless it’s paired with unreadable colors, I don’t get why people think it such an affront to their senses in most contexts.

Of course, I also don’t know why it’s such a popular choice for office signage, either. Why is a cartoon font your first choice when trying to address adults? Not a clue.

I just saw a sign on one of the iced latte machines in my school’s dining hall in Comic Sans, and I had the exact same reaction. And then I had to explain to my friend why I was staring and stammering incoherently.

Comic Sans is for comics! If you want to give instructions, use Helvetica! That’s what it was made for! Or for God’s sake, at least use Arial. A cheap imitation, but better than a font you should be using for a grade schooler’s birthday party invitation.

P.S. I actually am a graphic designer. Amateur, but close enough.

Ha! Death to Comic Sans! It’s not even a real comic font!

I have a very good friend who is a GD, and have been patiently schooled on fonts. I am a recovered Horrible Ugly Font lover. While I never got a ladyboner for Comic Sans, I probably have 200 swirly, goofy, farted from unicorns drunk on Purple Passion fonts in a secret folder.

You will pull my typewriter fonts from my cold, dead, tacky hands, however.

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