What Is Comic Sans? The World’s Most Divisive Font

See how graphic novels like Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns helped create the world's most divisive font.

Portrait for Dom HennequinBy Dom Hennequin  |  Updated September 10, 2020

Comic Sans is the world’s most divisive font.

It was conceived in the lead-up to Microsoft’s Windows 95.

After receiving a copy of Microsoft Bob, a comic software that featured a dog called Rover designed to help young people use a computer, font designer, Vincent Connare decided the speech bubbles displaying the dialogue looked a bit off. They were using Times New Roman. Connare thought it was an odd choice for a comic dog.

So, he decided to design a new font for the program.

He looked at graphic novels like Watchmen, and Dark Knight Returns and mimicked the style of the hand lettering.

There were no sketches or studies – it was just me drawing with a mouse, deleting whatever was wrong, I didn’t have to make straight lines, I didn’t have to make things look right, and that’s what I found fun. I was breaking the typography rules.

Connare told The Guardian

When someone suggested the “p” and “q” mirror each other perfectly, he said, “No, it’s supposed to be wrong!”

But Connare missed the deadline to make it into Windows 95. However, Comic Sans was eventually included in a Windows 95 Plus Pack, and later became a system font.

I started to see it everywhere …and then the backlash began.

Connare told The Guardian.

Since then Comic Sans has been dividing the internet ever since.

But the font itself isn’t necessarily the problem. It’s the way people use it that constantly strikes up controversy.

To help illustrate this point, here are a few situations in which Comic Sans is never appropriate:

How not to use Comic Sans

Unless you’re a children’s daycare center you shouldn’t be using Comic Sans in your logo.

Think of how silly some of the most famous logos in the world would look if they used Comic Sans:

You shouldn’t be using Comic Sans on important documents like medical results, arrest warrants, and driver’s licenses. No.

You shouldn’t be using Comic Sans for breaking news.

Finally, you shouldn’t be using Comic Sans for somber occasions like funerals.

As a font, Comic Sans is no more controversial than any other. But, its misuse has made it the most divisive font around.

It does get misused, usually because somebody just loves it, I couldn’t believe people could be so worked up over something as simple as a font.

Tom Stephens, a program manager at Microsoft told The Guardian.

But they were back then, and they still are today.

So, before you ever consider using Comic Sans, you may want to think twice.

If you’re asking yourself, “what the font?” check out our article on Font Trends 2020 over on the Elements Blog!

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