The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

5 October 2006

I shot the serifs

Death to Comic Sans, says Julie Neidlinger:

It's the beloved font of teachers and school administration officials and people who think it looks like friendly and approachable handwriting and therefore makes them giggle inside because they are printing out computed documents that look like handwriting except it DOESN'T LOOK LIKE HANDWRITING AT ALL. IT LOOKS STUPID. AND YES, I'M YELLING. Sometimes I just wish the world was all Verdana or Trebuchet, if only to avoid the "whimsy" and "fun" of Comic Sans. Or maybe even boring Garamond. Or Copperplate Gothic. Anything but Comic Sans or its inbred cousin, Andy. Just seeing Comic Sans anywhere enrages me inside. I can't even form the words to express the anger.

The worst emails I get are in Comic Sans, all caps, bold (just in case I wasn't getting the implied insult), with text-messaging abbreviations instead of real words. Size 18 font. With about three animated GIF's in the signature line. What, I wonder as I sit enraged in front of my monitor, did I ever do to deserve this kind of treatment?

All I can say is that whatever mail client I have at hand, the very first thing I look for, and toggle on if I find it, is "Read all mail in plain text," the way God and RFC 822 intended.

For the benefit of our data-entry types, I spend about twenty-five minutes a week producing card-stock signage for freshly-opened document bins, generally 8.5 by 4.625 inches. In an effort to provide some semblance of variety, I rotate seven different colors of stock, with contrasting ink colors when available, and I bring in a different font each week from the 75 or so I have available that are actually readable from across the room. (Black Chancery is out.) I think I used Comic Sans once, and nobody liked it.

Posted at 6:19 AM to PEBKAC

TrackBack: 11:22 PM, 5 October 2006
» Sansorship rears its ugly face from The Gleeson Bloglomerate
Julie Neidlinger has fired a salvo in the battle to ban Comic Sans. I share her disgust at this font's all-too-frequent inappropriate use. But I agree with the designer of the typeface, that it is very good at its original purpose, namely comic ......[read more]

A friend of mine used to send me e-mails that, for some reason, my e-mail client displayed as having some over-fancy all-caps font that was utterly illegible at any size smaller than the headline the local paper would use for the Second Coming.

Turned out he wasn't choosing that font, either. It was something in my system that was substituting it for his. So I deleted that font, and we're all happy.

People who use fonts that may not be widely supported, run this risk. That's why I generally have gone to specifying substitution fonts on my website, when I don't simply specify a generic "serif" or "sans-serif" as first choice.

Posted by: McGehee at 9:15 AM on 5 October 2006

Serifs are a remnant of days when reinforcement of lettershapes was needed so that the physical typeface could stand up to the constant pounding of the press. Those days ended long before computers, with offset and photographic reproduction techniques. There's no actual need for serifs anymore, and in fact sans-serif fonts are far easier to read on a computer screen (which are, after all, low-res compared with print).

Of course, serifs have nothing at all to do with the actual post. Serifs are just part of the post's headline, stretching a point for intended comic effect. (Hopefully, no one out there is thinking: "Comic?? Sans!!")

There is something of the Type Nazi about this vendetta, and its longing for the Purity of the 'one True Type' (what, no Postscript?) of the Fatherland. Which, apparently, is the whitebread font Verdana. (That's right. It's a Verdana Vendetta.)

Well, just you remember: One day they came for Comic Sans, and no one spoke up. Then they came for Copperplate Gothic, and no one rose to its defense. Finally they came for Garamond, and there was no one left to stop them.

Granted, they had to come for about 80,000 other fonts in between. So it took a while.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 5:22 PM on 5 October 2006

I tell you what, though: when they come for Cooper Black, I'll hand it over with glee.

Posted by: CGHill at 5:34 PM on 5 October 2006

"the way God and RFC 822 intended"

Amen, brother! Amen!

Posted by: Craig at 8:34 PM on 5 October 2006

Use of Comic Sans is the easiest way to spot amatuer graphic design.

Posted by: patrick at 9:16 PM on 5 October 2006

Personally, I have nothing against Comic Sans, but it is a rather childish-looking font, and shouldn't be used in business applications. But have you been in your average Grim Corporation of No-Fun Doom? You might be excused for thinking you've wandered into a kindergarten complex instead. Big Business has gone into the Happy Fun! Cartoon stuff in a big way. My company, which shall remain nameless, must have paid big bucks to a certain dead cartoonist's foundation for some of its graphics, and there is no escaping the We Are All Buddies At Play b.s.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at 5:58 AM on 6 October 2006

Big Business has gone into the Happy Fun! Cartoon stuff in a big way. My company, which shall remain nameless, must have paid big bucks to a certain dead cartoonist's foundation for some of its graphics, and there is no escaping the We Are All Buddies At Play b.s.

Maybe Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine should have tried that...

Posted by: McGehee at 10:34 AM on 6 October 2006

Re being mocked by cartoons: There's probably a lower level of Hell decorated with Smiley 'Have a Nice Eternity' stickers.

Posted by: Mister Snitch! at 5:51 PM on 6 October 2006