Avoiding Comic Sans

Free alternatives to the overused Comic Sans font.

The Wall Street Journal has a history of Comic Sans, the font that people love to hate, complete with an interview with its creator, Vincent Connare.

It turns out that Comic Sans was born from the unlamented Microsoft Bob project with inspiration from comic books – hence the name. It has been an installed font with Windows since the Windows 95 Plus pack. Microsoft describes Comic Sans as the “groovy script font” and the use of ‘groovy’ is another indication of how un-cool the font is .

These days Comic Sans can arouse unusually high passions among people who hate a mere font with a passion rarely seen in the post-war era.

There’s nothing really bad about Comic Sans – it’s a well designed and scalable font. The problem is its overuse due to the constant presence in Windows and lack of alternatives in Windows/Office. Aside from Comic Sans you either go formal (Times New Roman) or handwriting / script. Comic Sans is in the middle ground but not the only choice.

Mary-Jane Almer, Office Watch design guru says ” From a designer POV I can’t stand Comic Sans. It’s done to death and I think doesn’t have a very good impact if it’s used for business. Or at least I don’t get a good impression of that business if it’s using Comic Sans.“. Mary-Jane’s work has helped many Office Watch readers in our ebooks like Eye-Catching Signs with Word and Creative Certificates with Word.

Peter McDonell, another font expert tells us “Personally I don’t like it (Comic Sans) much, but don’t detest it as much as some other overused fonts, like Lucida Handwriting and Lucida Calligraphy, and maybe Monotype Corsiva. Fonts are often used by people for an effect that have no idea about.”

Alternatives

If you don’t want to be a pariah among the font cognoscenti what choices to you have? We asked Mary-Jane and Peter for some suggestions:

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  • Franklin Gothic, supplied with Office 2007, Office 2008 for Mac and some other software as far back as Publisher 97.
  • Century Gothic has been around since Office 4 and is in Office 2007.
  • Futura came with the “Microsoft TrueType Font Pack 2” that was sold by Microsoft last century.

The above fonts are available from Microsoft in the products listed.

Blambot.com specializes in comic inspired free fonts like

  • Digital Strip
  • Digital Strip 2
  • Web Letterer

Ban Comic Sans has a list of alternative fonts.

You can find any of these fonts using a web search.

  • Dom Casual has a freehand effect similar to Comic Sans.
  • Contemporary Brush
  • Zipty Do
  • Tekton, Architect or Architext families are slightly more formal, but still conveying a handwritten effect.

Don’t write off Comic Sans

As this video shows, in a font fight, Comic Sans is late, useless and poorly dressed.

The Euro has eyes?

As part of Microsoft’s description of Comic Sans it says ” Interesting fact – the euro has eyes ”

Does anyone know what they are talking about? Please let us know.

Here’s a large version of the Euro symbol from the latest Microsoft software.

Comic Sans - large Euro symbol.jpg image from Avoiding Comic Sans at Office-Watch.com

Some readers have suggest that turning the Euro symbol around 90 degrees anti-clockwise gives a smiley face and the ‘eyes’.  Seems a bit of a stretch to us – or maybe we’re lacking in imagination.