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Putting the sans in comic sans

May 8, 2006

It is old news that words can provoke strong feelings. A not so well known fact is that so can the very typeface of these words. Typographers and graphics designers feel strongly about particular fonts and typesets, and none are as intensely despised as Comic Sans.

In 1995 Microsoft released the font Comic Sans originally designed for comic book style talk bubbles containing informational help text. Since that time the typeface has been used in countless contexts from restaurant signage to college exams to medical information, to the joy of many and the intense irritation of others. In the organization where I work, we have banned the font entirely, and I recently learned that there is an organization lobbying for a world wide ban of the typeface. On their web site, they write that:

– Widespread abuses of [this] printed type threaten to erode the very foundations upon which centuries of typographic history are built. […] Clearly, Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.

In addition to a petition for banning comic sans, the web site offers cartoons, t-shirts and other propaganda material, as well as a wide array of alternative comic related fonts.

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