Take the 2-minute tour ×
User Experience Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for user experience researchers and experts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I have a client who wants to use comic sans ms for lots of things on a website I'm doing for him. How can I explain that comic sans ms is so bad? He's fairly easily persuaded, I think I just need the right arguments.

share|improve this question
    
Is this a loaded question? –  Emil Nov 29 '11 at 1:36
1  
@Emil - Loaded meaning... this is a legitimate question I have. I'm not trying to play devil's advocate or spark an argument or anything. :-) –  Leticia Meyer Nov 29 '11 at 2:30
2  
I think WWW.bancomicsans.com might have some additional arguments for you. –  Bernhard Hofmann Nov 29 '11 at 6:36
6  
I feel Comic Sans get bad press. It seems like a lot of designers have jumped on the bangwagon to hate it. I see a lot of bad use of it (saw it the other day on a electric fence warning sign!) but it also has it uses - There is the generalisation it is good for people with dyslexia and obvious applications such as comic books and kiddies stuff. Also makes me think - If so many hate Comic Sans why do so many people use it? –  Captain Nov 29 '11 at 9:11
2  
@captain, it's neither a good face for comic books or 'kiddy' stuff. Kids can read good typography, and there are faces designed for actual comic book lettering. It's used so much mainly because it's ubiquitous. It's on everyone's PC so becomes the default 'fun' typeface. Given a very limited selection fo type, yes, maybe Comic Sans is the best option. But most designers should have access to type options that are more appropriate in most cases. –  DA01 Nov 29 '11 at 15:37

9 Answers 9

up vote 52 down vote accepted

This question probably belongs on Graphic Design.

That said:

Good visual design is about a lot of things, one of them being that it should be appropriate for the particular message one is trying to communicate.

Comic Sans was designed for MS Bob, a failed UI concept of MS's back in the day. It was created to be informal, but legible at low-resolution. MS Bob is dead, and most of us have nice computer screens now.

I'd ask the client what the use of Comic Sans seems to 'say' to them in terms of brand image. Are they hoping for an informal, friendly feel? If so, maybe steer them in the direction of any number of much better designed script faces that are truly designed as hand written. Are they looking for a comic book feel? If so, point out that while Comic Sans is named that, it wasn't designed for comic books, and then steer them in the direction of all the great faces designed specifically for comic book lettering.

If they are hoping for anything other than that, then it's your job to show them why it's an inappropriate choice. Just as you wouldn't choose stock photos of people in sweat pants eating fast food to sell luxury jewelry, you wouldn't use Comic Sans, either.

Given the uniqueness of the face and how much it's used inappropriately, it gives off a very cheap, generic feel to nearly everything its applied to. That's likely not the message your client is hoping to communicate--even if it is a subconscious thing.

In summary, and perhaps a more practical approach: Ask them what they want to communicate to their customers via the use of Comic Sans. You can then find typefaces that better communicate that message and are much less generic that will help the client stand out.

share|improve this answer
9  
Very good and thorough answer DA01! I didn't know that about MS Bob, I'll be sure to mention that to him, as well as the "comic" part of the name. Thanks! –  Leticia Meyer Nov 29 '11 at 2:29
2  
+1 The first well balanced answer I have read about this type face. And with suggestions on what to do instead of MS Comic Sans instead instead of "just" deriding it. –  Marjan Venema Nov 29 '11 at 15:08
2  
From a branding/presentation approach I think this is very important to UX as well as graphic design. A designer might tell you why Comic Sans is silly or stupid or ugly, but what's important is how it reflects on your product. –  Ben Brocka Nov 29 '11 at 15:51

Ignore the client and use a better type face. Say something like, "We think this font looks much better than comic sans." If they need more explanation -- "Comic sans looks really dated and is over-used. There are lots of other comic book fonts and handwriting fonts that will look cleaner and more modern." If that doesn't do it, they aren't interested in your opinion.

share|improve this answer
    
Welcome to UX.SE! Check out the help center and tour pages to learn more about getting the most from this community! This question is very old and already has an accepted answer. If you wanted to add to that answer, a comment would be more appropriate than a new answer. –  norabora Jul 19 '13 at 15:50

It has to be decided on a client by client basis, and definitely in the right context.

For internal discussions or sketches, Comic Sans can be appropriate to convey that something is not final, meant to be taken lightly, and is not an attempt at design.

For client-facing deliverables, it usually is seen as unprofessional, and should be avoided.

share|improve this answer
1  
good call on the sketch usage. That is an appropriate context for using Comic Sans. –  DA01 Dec 5 '11 at 20:24

Explain to your client that it's all about "perception". Comic Sans has history of being perceived as a "joke" font and any message written in such a font will be taken as a joke. Readers will most likely perceive the message to be playful and lighthearted, which may contradict the actual message.

Every font conveys a message beyond what the sum of each letter and word. Some fonts evoke fear and scariness. Other fonts make documents look official. Others are silly and playful. Make sure your client knows that Comic Sans is too playful and might cause the reader to misinterpret the meaning of message.

http://blogs.wsj.com/dailyfix/2010/07/09/lebron-james-and-the-revenge-of-comic-sans/

share|improve this answer

This page discusses some of the reasons why Comic Sans is so hated, as well as examples and decent alternatives. One of the points discussed is:

Technical and Aesthetic Drawbacks
While many who hate Comic Sans do so just because of its omnipresence, others hate it because of aesthetic and technical drawbacks. Both the kerning and weighting of the font are inconsistent, leading to a haphazard appearance in large swathes of text (or even small ones).

A perfect example of the poor kerning can be seen here, between the "T" and "A": enter image description here

This example is taken from Todd Klein's Blog, where he also goes into great detail on why Comic Sans should not be used.

share|improve this answer

Comic Sans is used pretty commonly in Primary Education.

If the client operates in the Primary Education field - then the client is probably right.

BTW - All the comments so far are subjective comments from the design community. What is lacking is some actual research on how people respond to it...

share|improve this answer
2  
And your edit makes your answer more valid how??? –  Charles Boyung Nov 30 '11 at 2:21
    
I guess there's a bigger discussion here about whether you adopt different designs for different client groups - Eg: Should a bank's website look like a school's website ? Here's an example of a well known schools website here in the UK: woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk –  PhillipW Nov 30 '11 at 9:57
    
@PhillipW That's not a discussion it's a fact and common practice. Different designs are for different target markets and clients. –  Matt Rockwell Dec 1 '11 at 11:40
    
I say don't insult kids by using Comic Sans. Kids aren't uncouth and are quite capable at discerning the idiosyncrasies and details in type. We sadly don't teach aesthetics and art as much as we should to children in the US, but even a kid knows Comic Sans is hokey and usually used inappropriately...even within the walls a grade school. ;) –  DA01 Dec 2 '11 at 5:02
    
Also, I have to disagree that all the comments are subjective. There's MANY objective points made in the answers. Design and namely typography isn't pure subjective artist's whims. That's certainly a part of it, but there are plenty of objective critiques that can be made of nearly every typeface out there. The problem with Comic Sans is that no matter what category or target demographic you place it into, you will find objectively BETTER options than Comic Sans for that particular category or target demographic. –  DA01 Dec 2 '11 at 5:04

Some dyslexics actually find comic sans easier to read.

Though while I am dyslexic it doesnt work for me - Liberation Sans Narrow does. Uk Dyslexia association link to fonts

share|improve this answer

Comic Sans is sits in a typographic uncanny valley. It is clearly trying to imitate real handwriting, but the uniformity of line weight, repetitive features, and lack of variable glyphs make a a repulsive half-human of a font, a typographic abomination, a vaguely familiar but frightening beast.

Try Offhand Round for a nice alternate with all the features that Comic Sans lacks.

share|improve this answer

Comic sans is a good font, if used correctly. It's for comic book situations like below. (usually all CAPS) It's not meant for emails or web page text. My suggestion is to show them the proper use of the font and ask them if they want comic book characters commissioned for the site. Then it will look correct.

Sometimes, trebuchet MS or Tahoma will make them feel better than Arial.

enter image description here

share|improve this answer
    
It was also meant for and looks great on Microsoft Outlook Notes. Oh, wait... –  LarsTech Nov 29 '11 at 2:23
    
Pretty sure I'll show him that image. Thanks! –  Leticia Meyer Nov 29 '11 at 2:30
4  
It wasn't designed for that use, but in a pinch, it's better than nothing. That said, there are hundreds of better comic book lettering faces that were designed specifically for that. –  DA01 Nov 29 '11 at 5:11
1  
"Mr. Connare says he pulled out the two comic books he had in his office, "The Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen," and got to work, inspired by the lettering and using his mouse to draw on a computer screen. Within a week, he had designed his legacy." -- online.wsj.com/article/SB123992364819927171.html –  Laurence Gonsalves Dec 2 '11 at 3:45
1  
@glen it was inspired by, but not designed for comic book lettering. Yes, perhaps nit-picky, but what are we designers if not nit-picky, right? ;) –  DA01 Dec 2 '11 at 4:58

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.