Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Use Comic Sans
By Deb Rox on January 20, 2011
BlogHer Original Post
Do not adjust your dial. The foreign-looking font that you see in this post is intentional. Please bear with me!
Image by MDL.hu via Flickr.
Yes, I am using Comic Sans MS -- the font that is so ugly that it has inspired a fierce and mighty Ban Comic Sans movement -- because I care about your brain development and I want you to learn. I am using Comic Sans MS because I love you.
Here's why: Princeton research published in the January issue of the scientific journal Cognition asserts that unattractive, hard-to-read fonts -- like the horrid Comic Sans -- help students learn. MSNBC reports:
Fonts, or styles of typeface, that are relatively difficult to read (including the much-maligned Comic Sans) help people learn new information, according to a new study. The font effect works both in lab experiments and in real classrooms, perhaps by forcing students to work harder to process the information.
So which fonts are feeling bad now? Huh? Ariel and Geneva, that's who. Because with those sleek and easy-to-read fonts information might look more appealing, but just like a pleasant breeze, that info is more likely to leave your brain as effortlessly as it entered.
Believe you me (oh no, is using Comic Sans making me write trite?), I am on the list of people least likely to defend Comic Sans, ever.
I have long agreed with critics of Comic Sans who point out that not only is the font a heinous affront to aesthetics, it also doesn't function well as a font in either print nor digital usage. It was created and initially used as a comic book font derivative for a very specific reason -- to be used as the font in the speech bubbles of software guides by Microsoft Word.
I once shamed my grandmother for using Comic Sans. My own grandmother! But now I know she only wanted me to learn! Imagine my shame.
The problem is, who is going to willingly use Comic Sans, even if it is scientifically proven to increase learning retention? Comic Sans is known as the font choice of the uncool. Of those who tape passive-aggressive signs on shared refrigerators and in office bathrooms. Of those who do other equally heinous things, like overuse ellipses and exclamation marks, space twice after sentences and send email forwards of long poems or urban legends carelessly rendered in turquoise- and magenta-colored Comic Sans.
But ... consider this.
Maybe trying to use Comic Sans -- maybe just a little, an email here, a garage sale sign there -- could help THE COUNTRY in many ways. Make us more humble. Simplify our lives. Get grounded. Make folks smile! Heck, meet people you can call "folks." Drop some of our hipster pretension (I'm looking at you, Avenir) and rebel against the designer status quo (To hell with you, Helvetica!).
Be remembered for what truly matters: helping children learn!
But learn what??? Learn to use Comic Sans? After reading Shakespeare and Sartre in Comic Sans, will they write their theses in Comic Sans? Own businesses and put all of their signs in Comic Sans? PUBLISH BOOKS IN COMIC SANS???
This must be stopped. Our children deserve better. You know what? Looking back at what I've written in Comic Sans, looking at what I have become in the grip of this atrocious mess of bottom heavy C's and D's (and, dear God, look at the sad-sack connecting bar on capital H), I feel, I don't know, dirty.
I need an Excelsior shower, STAT!
I want more for our children, don't you? I mean sure, I want them to remember what they have learned. But I also want them to be able to design attractive websites and T-shirts. Can't we have it all?
What about you. Does this discovery make you question all you know to be right in the world? Does Comic Sans even bother you? Would you rather be smart for a moment in a swanky typeface, or be dorky but remembered in Comic Sans?
Contributing Deb Rox blogs and Deb on the Rocks and will not go gently into that Comic Sans night.