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Comic Sans and Why You Shouldn’t Use It

On the surface Comic Sans seems like a pretty harmless choice of font. It’s cute and friendly, but that is also its downfall. Comic Sans has been misused for decades in the wrong context. It is great for children’s books, but not so good for professional use. 

The font was originally designed in 1994 by Vincent Connare for Microsoft. It was used in speech bubbles in a  program called “Microsoft Bob”.  Microsoft Bob was a cartoon dog meant to help children navigate the Microsoft Windows interface. Comic Sans was simple, unique and fun and worked famously for its original intention. 

Over the years this friendly and approachable font has been hijacked for use in professional business settings, i.e., advertisements, billboards, formal documents and contracts, articles, emails, web pages, business signage, you name it. This absolutely does not align with its intended use. It’s the equivalent of having a kazoo section in an orchestra, or inviting a clown to perform at a murder trial. Context matters. As a result of its widespread misuse, Comic Sans has become infamous as the typeface of amateurs, and using it can get you immediately written off as unprofessional. If you want to be taken seriously don’t use something designed for children.

Headline and paragraph in comic sans

So now you must be thinking “Well, what if I’m specifically targeting children?” If you are, then that’s great! But I bet dollars to donuts that you’re still using it wrong. For example, are you using Comic Sans for all your body copy? If so, congratulations! That’s wrong! Yes, it’s something playful and simple, but whole paragraphs of Comic Sans are  difficult to read. Between the wonky kerning (the spacing between letters), the lack of line variation in the letter forms, and inconsistent baselines, which causes letters to be misaligned, reading large amounts of it — or even three or more lines of it — is enough make anyone go cross-eyed.

When choosing a typeface and fonts for your business, be sure the consult a graphic designer about font pairings. They can help you choose a typeface that aligns with the vision and goals of your business and of your customers.

Ayana Johnson

Ayana graduated from the Art Institute of Phoenix in 2016 with a B.A. in Graphic and Web Design with a focus typography and layout design.

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