Comic Sans Must Die. Long Live Times New Roman.

Did you know that Comic Sans is the doppelgänger for Times New Roman? We can even call Comic Sans, Times New Romans evil twin. To understand why the two are so notorious we have to look back at the creation of Comic Sans.

Vincent Connre created Comic Sans for Microsoft as he disliked the use of Times New Roman in the dialogue bubbles of a cartoon character “Bob“. Just like that a nemesis was created.

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The focus in its creation should have been that Times New Roman, a versatile and professional font, did not seem to suit the comic ideals of a cartoon strip, hence Connare created Comic Sans. The world however, took Connares’ refusal to use Times New Roman literally. They saw it as a disinclination to use the font by a famed designer. They began to use Comic Sans as a replacement for Times New Roman. It was used in official letters, medical documents and even billboards creating mayhem in the design world. I doubt anyone was more horrified than Connare himself.

Comic Sans has today become the most hated font in the world. Really, just search Google for ‘most hated font’ and Comic Sans automatically appears as a suggestion. It is one of the few fonts that is so misused that it has actually become despised. The tragedy is poor Vincent Connare, even specified the use of Comic Sans when he designed it, he specifically wrote that it was for “new computer users and families with children”.

Does the fault then lie in the user and not the typeface?

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• Fonts as a Visual Language

Fonts are the visual representation of a message. They create a meaning that is meant to enhance the texts message. Every font has a different personality and typeface conveys different messages when used properly. Used in the right way the font enhances the message, used incorrectly it simply creates dissonance.

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I contend that most users (designers aside) do not realize the importance of using fonts in their communications and marketing strategies. The fact is, some fonts convey professionalism, for example Times New Roman and Arial, still others convey modernity e.g. Helvetica, and then there is Comic Sans. For the people of knowledge, there are always workable tips for the selection of a font.

Unfortunately, all Comic Sans does is portray cartoonish immaturity. I blame the font and the user. Who in their right mind would choose Comic Sans to be the face of their company?

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• Let Science be the Judge: Times New Roman vs Comic Sans

Many designers think that choosing Times New Roman is just as bad as choosing Comic Sans. The choice of the latter opens you to ridicule while the choice of the former suggests indifference.

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However, regardless of these unscientific thoughts, research into the use of typefaces is suggesting that Times New Roman may be one of the few fonts that actually persuades unconsciously. It has no hard core personality, I agree but that’s the beauty of the typeface. It is so bland that it actually takes the personality of the literal message of the text.

Consider an anecdotal study done by Paul Renaud on the grading of academic papers. He found that academic papers submitted in Times New Roman garnered a consistent A -, while papers in Trebuchet MS got a B – .

Another study conducted by New York University psychologists asked participants to read the same satirical essay, and then asked them to rank the essays in terms of humor. It was seen that the piece given in Times New Roman (comparative font was Arial) was perceived to be more humorous. For those of you who failed to connect the dots, the beauty of Times New Roman (offline) is that in its complete lack of personality allows it to take on whatever message the text is presenting, making it more versatile than it is given credit for.

Comic Sans unfortunately, has too much of a personality compared to its doppelganger. Times New Roman makes the words matter (excellent for marketers) while Comic sans triggers an immediate response of some kind-whether hate or love.

Amare, an American scholar did a study on emotional effects of typefaces and found that Comic Sans spiked the emotional spectrum-it was as if the font is on steroids. The adverse effect of Comic Sans can be seen through the blunder made by scientists in presenting the biggest discovery ever, the revelation of the God particle (the font chosen was Comic Sans). People commented less on the discovery and more on the choice of font!

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• It’s Time to Kill Comic Sans

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Comic Sans has been so abused that designers are up in arms and asking for its quick death. Australian born designer Craig Rozynski has created a more stylish font as a replacement for Comic Sans. He calls it Comic Neue. As per Rozynski he created the font to save ‘Comic Sans’, a noble deed if I say so myself!

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Cyrus Highsmith, a typeface designer states, “Typography is one ingredient in a pretty complicated presentation…it is the detail and the presentation of a story. It represents the voice of an atmosphere, or historical setting of some kind. It can do a lot of things.”

Well on the basis of that quote, I have to say that Comic Sans unfortunately is so full of itself that it has to be relegated only to the use of comic books to be effective. There is no way anyone else will take it seriously, even lemonade stands should have higher standards.

Times New Roman on the other hand is a classic. I am not saying that I would use it on a website (research also shows that used on the web Times New Roman denotes boredom) but it is still a great choice offline.

That’s my opinion. What’s yours?

Heated Discussion on LinkedIn

Professional designers are aggressively contributing on our LinkedIn page – Follow the hyped discussion to explore what experts have to say and participate 🙂

Michael J

“Additionally, Vincent Connare made Comic Sans in 1994, not 1995 like you said. Otherwise, we’d be seemingly “celebrating” the font’s 20th anniversary NEXT year, not this year.”

Alexander M

“Comic Sans vs Times New Roman, no competition.
Times New Roman is based on the classic typeface Times which is timeless and has a wide application of uses. It might not be as widely used as it once was, but it’s still a staple of many designers type choices whether used as is or some vartiation of the original.
Comic Sans is based on marker style handwriting, and only has a few possible “good” uses, the only one I can think of is that its easier for children to read than most standard typefaces.”

Hans Duenas

“Fonts are part of our tools. We should all know when is appropriate to use them. Is like a carpenter wants to use a chop saw to rip wood.
Same thing with fonts, if you are designing something for kids, Comic Sans could be appropriate, however; as graphic designers will know when is really appropriate. I cannot imagine a graphic designer using Comic Sans to create a brochure for a financial institution.”

Mark-Tothill

“There are many places where Comic Sans is appropriate – but a cancer campaign? I don’t get it. Are they trying to say “cancer is very bad but not as bad as…”?”

Arsalan Khatri

“@Mark, i partially agree that they might have given the impression that Comic Sans is like Cancer for designers, but i think (and hope) what they really aimed for was to invoke participating designers to express their opinion regarding the typeface, and spread awareness by encouraging others to participate in the exhibition as well.
I had gone through their guidelines and they did mention that it’s not even necessary to use Comic Sans in your designs, but the context/ content must be linked to your opinion of the typeface. Hence, i’m hopeful they didn’t intentionally decide to do this.”

I am a digital marketing consultant with a focus on small and mid-sized enterprises. I believe the focus of every business should be on creating a consistent brand identity online and offline.

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