Why Designers Hate Comic Sans

After discussing design details with a client last week, I was asked randomly, “So… What is it exactly that designers hate about Comic Sans? I happen to like it.” While the though of her liking it made it hard to swallow, the question posed a serious thought for me – What exactly do I dislike about Comic Sans? I mean, come on, it’s just a font, right?!

The question not only caught me off guard, but also made it clear to me that I had no exact answer; Well at least not with a well prepared, thought-out one anyways. After leaving the meeting, I went home and the question lingered with me some more. Poor little font… What is it that I dislike about you?

To ease my pain, I decided to hop on Twitter and ask other designers the same question. Here’s what they had to say.

Why do you dislike Comic Sans?

  • @6bdesign – I don’t like because I think it’s ugly. Plus I’ve never found a need to use it for anything
  • @jsondy – Comic Sans = amateurish (abused font in Powerpoint); over-used
  • @keylimecreative – it’s ugly – [me: Why's it ugly?] … because unfortunately it’s easy to read and and shipped with every PC
  • @sofaemployed – overuse and abuse [...] looks like Bart’s chalkboard handwriting on The Simpson’s opening
  • @chrisong – Never found it suitable for anything other than comics or other humorous material
  • @athenaemily – Font isn’t bad in its own right but since it’s over used by kids and students, it looks stupid when applied to professional design
  • @mccambridge – I like Comic Sans in the right context… which usually is NOT business. I’d never use it for screen copy. Too hard to read
  • @MCGSTUDIO – I totally agree with @athenaemily. It ends up looking cheap and unprofessional.
  • @mtnmissy – It’s appropriate type for comics, but that’s about it. There’s an appropriate place for certain fonts.
  • @mayhemstudios – usually I don’t find comic sans fit for any real projects, unless it was a parody or for a comic.
  • @ommacreative – it’s because anyone can use it, so it looks so unprofessional. It’s a web font now for goodness sake!
  • @LogoMotives – Comic Sans: too available, overused; most often used by individuals with no design skills.
  • @sonaliagrawal – It’s outdated. I designed my own first website using that font, but no I find it cute and childish.
  • @visualrhetor – Comic Sans = Budweiser. MS Paint. Kia. Nickelback. Walmart. Etc…
  • @jlsellers – probably the same reason they don’t like Papyrus — overuse, too common.
  • @sarahtelldown – so over-used
  • @StephenTiano – Perhaps I think it’s because it’s so ubiquitous and a font that untrained people used incorrectly.

In response to why clients like Comic Sans

  • @tomcarmony – I think there are a lot of other well crafted typefaces out there that fit the same “fun” motif. They like the informal feel…
  • @Meroko – because there’s not a lot of options for non-designers in terms of fonts when you don’t know/want to pay
  • @athenaemily – they like it because it looks “fun”, it’s a very stylish font in its own right so they might think they designed something by applying it.
  • @ommacreative – it’s because anyone can use it, so it looks so unprofessional. It’s a web font now for goodness sake!
  • @dragonlady23 – because to non-designers anything that doesn’t look like Arial or Times is cool/unique
  • @stevethegreat – I think it’s because it was so heavily used in the early web days to convey that ‘human feel’

Hmmm… but isn’t Helvetica overused?

With “overused” being used over in many of the above responses, I was wondering if you feel Helvetica is overused, and if so, why do you still like it? — I know I’m asking for trouble with this question!

Related Comic Sans Resources and Links

  1. Is Papyrus the new Comic Sans?
  2. Why Comic Sans?
  3. Fighting the good fight against a very bad font

Discussion and Comments

+ Add to the discussion
  1. Hater says:

    Comic Sans makes me want to punch a baby :(

    I stay away from it

  2. Alice says:

    Well its simply about human pshycology i guess people might differ with he opinions but for most of the people natural thoughts matter more than any thing.

  3. jakeu1701 says:

    Comic Sans is over used, but so are alot of fonts. I just don’t like the look of it and ones that look like it. I suppose they have their place, but it just does not fit into my style.

  4. EuroDesigner says:

    I hate it simply because it is so overused and easy. It gives anyone the illusion or an impression of taste and uniqueness but without any real effort. That they have truly done something noteworthy. They haven’t. Anyone with any small amount of sense of design are thinking just the opposite.
    My mother uses this “cute” font and this is a woman that has the entire house in olive greens, oranges and covered in shag carpeting.
    So whenever I see it used, I am without any doubt that these same users love olive green shag carpeting. And I bet they have one or two old tired art prints covering their walls.
    Actually, I haven’t seen ComicSans for years on my PCs and Apple. A bit of tweaking and knowing what to do – I replaced it with Helvetica.

  5. Thomas says:

    I’m not a designer, and I’ve never liked Helvetica. I do, on occasion, like Comic Sans, but that’s mostly due to its being a very easy font to read in a chat client, and it doesn’t distort when going up in size.

  6. Devon says:

    Oh, so “professionals” like to make hate clubs for fonts…

    Yes, it’s not the most attractive font. Yes, it’s less formal. So what? I can understand the desire to hurl when it’s used poorly, but I see nothing wrong with the font itself.

    I felt like I used it appropriately in a “fun” design, and now I’m considering replacing it just because other designers will cry about it being used at all. That’s pretty sad.

  7. Devon says:

    As far as over-use of a font, that’s just ridiculous, and it has nothing to do with this issue. I’m sure Arial is used FAR more often, and you certainly aren’t complaining about that.

    You probably just mean it’s over-used *in bad ways*, which is quite different. It’s not really the font’s fault that it’s been used that way (bad signs and such). Any “playful” or “informal” font could have easily taken it’s place.

    To say it’s simply Comic Sans that is the problem, just seems wrong. What about the person who mentioned Blambot? If any of those fonts were included in Microsoft’s products, they’d most likely have seen the same abuse.

    Well, I guess if you really hate it, then *any* use is “over-use”. So there’s probably not much point arguing if you’re already set on hating it.

  8. tom says:

    this is very informative on how people think lol.
    its strange how people can hate a font so much that they want to ban it.
    surly banning a font because you dont like it is similar to saying no to freedom of speech.
    also as a graphic design student i dont mind it although i havent found a use for it yet in my work. but if there was one i would use it and it would probably make me laugh at how many people it would annoy because of its use lol.

  9. bob calder says:

    Imagine what the Hutaree militia website would have looked like in Comic Sans.

  10. RT says:

    I’m not a designer, but recently began working with designers and I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can so as to 1) not sound like an idiot in requirements discussions and 2) not make the designer’s (more) job difficult and frustrating.
    So far I’m not convinced either way on Comic Sans, but I am very pleased that my search for “why do designers hate comic sans so much?” actually returned an informative result!

  11. RT says:

    And of course my type-o did not help me achieve goal #1 of not sounding like an idiot. I meant I don’t want to make the designer’s job (more) difficult and frustrating.

  12. Amy says:

    “@visualrhetor – Comic Sans = Budweiser. MS Paint. Kia. Nickelback. Walmart. Etc…”
    That absolutely sums it up for me. Generic, cheap, and mass-marketed.

  13. Devon says:

    Again, just because a font is “generic, cheap, and mass-marketed” doesn’t make it a bad font. Arial, Times New Roman, etc. are all used just as much, yet with far less hate.

    At least back up your dislike for Comic Sans with logical reasons, such as that it has far less uses than those other two fonts. (Can’t be used well for large blocks of text, in a book, professional presentations, etc.)

    Just saying it is over-used is like shooting your own argument in the foot, since most other “default” fonts suffer the same thing.

  14. Andrea says:

    I was faced with this issue twice this month. The first instance was when another designer used Comic Sans in a poster design for a fun, literary-themed event. I asked that it be changed since I knew it to be a taboo in the book design world, and I wanted to avoid conflict. The second instance was today when I explained to a student my own personal rejection of the font. I explained that when it came out it was widespread and ‘different’, and it allowed people to feel like they were expressing a sense of fun. Now there are just so many creative type options available that it tends to be only elementary school teachers and small business owners with no ad budget who use it. Professionals have no real need to settle. As a comic font, I think it lacks style compared to other options also, and it is so clearly recognizable because it is everywhere — people are bound to have associations with the volumes of bad design that have used it even when looking at a good design.

  15. Scott says:

    Comic Sans is not overused. It is misused, and misused more than most other fonts. It is a font that conveys the feelings of “un-formal”, “fun”, “light-hearted”. Those feelings are esay to convert to the concepts of “juvenile” “unrefined” and “unprofessional”.

    Once those feelings get entrenched in your mind, it’s hard to shake them. Say you saw a newspaper printed out in Comic Sans and you think to yourself “This looks childish”. Then you see a note up in a cafe printed in the same font saying “We close at 10″, you can associate the font with the feeling of inappropriateness. Multiply that by the hundreds of times you see the font, and people can begin to always see the font as wrong.

    Say you are introduced to “Steve” at a friends wedding. Steve is wearing a faded polo, shorts, and flip flops. You think “Man, this guy is poorly dressed!” A week later, you see Steve at the Olive Garden, wearing the same outfit. While the setting is less formal, you’re still likely to look at his presentation and think “Steve is a sloppy dresser. He has no class.”

    That’s my opinion.

  16. Nonnu says:

    about Helvetica… here’s some blasphemy for you:
    Helvetica is becoming the next Arial due to it’s over usage.

  17. Mr Fnortner says:

    @Nonnu: Apparently the apo’strophe is becoming the new Comic Sans due to its overuse.

  18. Cliff says:

    It’s not just that it’s overused, it’s that it is overused and it’s very distinctive.

    Helvetica may be overused as well, but Helvetica doesn’t (generally) jump out of the document and scream “I’m Helvetica, dammit!” at you.

    Dropshadows are overused as well, but as long as you don’t make a page with honking and screaming dropshados everywhere you won’t notice them at all.

    The problem with comic sans is that it takes attention away from the message you are trying to convey, and places attention on the font choice of the designer.

    Racing stripes may be fine by themselves, but if you put them on everything, then they can start to make you wonder about the wisdom of the manufacturer.

    One reason that Apple has a good reputation in design is that they generally try to eliminate useless design features that cause distraction and in so doing, produce something that is a bit more timeless than their competitors, because it ages better.

    If one then looks through the isles of PC laptops, you see all the manufactures trying to copy each other and using design cliches that stick out like sore thumbs in comparison, like super shiny faux chrome finishes or the inexplicably popular black piano finishes. They will typically have bizarre curves and lines evoking race cars, in what I guess is a ham handed attempt to make their laptop look like it goes fast.

    Comic Sans is the same thing. It smacks of amateur designers throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks, and then not caring about what sticks.

  19. James says:

    I just don’t understand the thought processes that lead someone to deciding that Comic Sans is acceptable anywhere outside a primary school.

    It’s a lazy, cheap, unprofessional and ugly font. It’s employed when the content lacks warmth or charm and the author wants to instil those qualities in spite of the obvious lack of anything like that in what’s been written.

    Its supposed to be warm, frivolous and cosy but it’s patronising, charmless and overused. It’s the place where the design bus broke down just outside the design bus station.

    People use it because they don’t understand the first thing about design or presentation but they want to do something different. Well, Comic Sans just isn’t different enough. It’s used by people who want to seem fluffy and cuddly but are just bloody vacuous.

    I despise it and all the infantile, humourless and needless ways its used in everyday life. It’s stupid to say but it just plain offends me. So there!

  20. Aidan says:

    I feel a little at-odds here, as I am kind of a designer (as in, I know a thing or two about design), but I like Comic Sans. I fully agree not to use to in professional settings unless your profession is comics, but I don’t hate it like most seem to.

    Specifically, in response to this: @visualrhetor – Comic Sans = Budweiser. MS Paint. Kia. Nickelback. Walmart. Etc…
    I like all of those things! XD Except MS Paint. It can go die in a car fire.

  21. Chris says:

    Does anyone else agree with me that Comic Sans is actually HARD to read? No doubt it is a good font for those with reading difficulties and for some children who are learning to read. I am happy to read it in short bursts, such as party invitations, but I find it very tiring to read long documents in CS. The crucial test for me of a good font is that it must be easy to read upside-down. Comic Sans fails that test miserably!

  22. I’m not one of the blind Comic Sans bashers–even had some comiclike illustrations in a book once that, if I remember correctly, it worked with–but I can’t imagine long docs being a wisp of a consideration for Comic Sans. What made you even think of the possibility?

  23. Chris says:

    “What made you think of the possibility?

    Put simply, I didn’t think of it! In educational circles, it’s not uncommon to see Comic Sans used inappropriately for long documents: four or five page documents detailing the special needs of students; my grandsons’ school reports, again four or five pages long; and, worst of all, 25 pages of lecture notes on mathematical modeling. What seems to be lacking is the understanding that a font which is very good in one context can be terribly wrong in another.

  24. Mr Fnortner says:

    Is Chris upside down or is the document upside down? In either case, why and how is this a standard for legibility or suitability. Yes, some type faces are easier to read than others, and a conscientious printer will select from among those faces that get the message across easily and effectively. That said, there is no other reason to disparage any type face than snobbery or prejudice. I think the criticism here is more directed at who we suppose is doing the printing than at Comic Sans itself. Don’t you feel that’s a little nasty?

  25. Devon says:

    Good point Mr Fnorter. It’s just an inanimate font.

    Although I’d say they are against the decision, or those who make the decision (to include Comic Sans), rather than the people who print it.

    Cliff, you had a good point about racing stripes, but just because people might use them on trashy cars – thereby turning people off to racing stripes – it wouldn’t mean they are *always* in bad taste.

    That said, I honestly think there’s better comic fonts out there. Honestly, I don’t use Comic Sans for my comic, it doesn’t fit, and I didn’t like the look so much. But I’m far from “hating” it.

  26. Anthoy says:

    I have often pondered as to the “why” involving this comic sans debate. And as the the answers above, such as it’s overuse, or it’s lack of concept are incomparable to the true reason as to “why”.

    In short, I have narrowed down the why to a couple reasons.

    1) My first premise follows a Darwinian perspective. People can not function as a single conscious, no matter what your Western individualistic culture tells you. People can only obtain goals by interacting and using others to get to their ends. That being said graphic designers and visual artist, among others, judge aesthetics based on value claims set out by others, this of course being the culture they interact in. Fonts are no exception, thereby when on person says “I hate Comic Sans” or devote entire websites to said concepts, and can convince other parties that “their” cultural of font taste is more superior than yours then you will undoubtedly follow as the good fashionista you are, as not to appear “out of the loop” or left behind.

    See works of Margret Meed, Charles Dawkins, or even Sigmund Freud to understand more about cultural value and evolution.

    2) Secondly, I would like to take a phenomenological view of value claims. The philosopher Hegal pointed out that ‘things’ are not actually what they appear to be, unless we compare then to their other. The concept is just as Black could not exist how it is without white. So as our concepts of whats “good” cannot exist without our concepts without “bad”. Thereby everything has a other. Comic Sans is the other of Helvitica, but only, as mentioned above, in a socio-pharmacological manner.

    Therefore, Comic Sans, as a “thing in itself” or by itself is not bad. In fact, when presented alone, or in a proper man it quite useful, and by no means unattractive or distasteful. It is only the culture that ultimately informs us. Unfortunately, I fear that this comment is awfully weighty, and therefore will not dedicate anymore time to point out the immaturity of graphic designers who abhor Comci Sans. I will simply state that rationally they are flawed to an existent that will do them more harm than good in the long run.

    Also, I have written this in a hurry, but would like to apologize for any errors that may have turned up in this comment.

  27. Mr Fnortner says:

    An unexpected and thought-provoking post, Anthoy. I may agree with you on some level, but let me begin with your point number 2. What you have said is that without Helvetica, Comic Sans would need to be contrasted with lesser fonts, and therefore may not seem so bad in context. Interesting idea, but what set of absolute values has dictated that Helvetica is “good” and therefore Comic Sans is “bad”? Perhaps Helvetica is bad. Perhaps they are not on the same axis. Perhaps they are not opposite at all. That takes us to number 1. Aren’t value systems personal? And what may appear good to one person may appear bad to another? A lengthy post may be a waste of time and electrons to one reader, but may be decent exposition to another, for example. So again, we have no absolute value system, and people are left to rely on their own values, or better, on the value systems of their neighbors. In the end, Comic Sans is bad because the graphic design community has said so, that’s all.

  28. SFS says:

    Just wondering, who are we to judge? do we got any better by hating something? what we do is what we are. everything was created for a reason with all its beauty & possibilities. an ugly duck is the idol dude on the block to its babe. i don’t judge ANY font by its look. it’s not about font itself we are designing. i think i will combine Helvetica & Comic Sans in one of my masterpiece. they make a romantic couple :)

  29. BlueWinter says:

    Comic Sans is overused by schoolchildren, so it has connotations of childishness and amateurishness. To put something like that on, for example, a business card would be madness. Of course, Comic Sans has its context (like if one wanted to create something that looked like it had been done by a preschooler), but there are other fonts that look scrawled which are good to use (such as Journal). I myself am in Year 9, and I cringe when pupils around me use Comic Sans in posters, spider diagrams and whatnot. When I am engaging in graphics art, I try to find fonts online that suit my purposes, so they do not look like overused ones.

  30. Seaworm says:

    Sadly, I’ll start this comment with the overused sentence “comic sans is overused”.
    The great difference between comic sans being overused and helvetica being overused, is that you grow tired of comic sans a lot quicker than helvetica, because the latter is a lot more versatile.

  31. aaa says:

    to say that comic sans is ‘overuse’ just does not make sense.

    i think at the end of the day, most people just want to follow what other people think about Comic Sans.
    Its just an innocent, simple font. Like someone said, there’s a time and place for the different typeface.
    The people i know who doesn’t like Comic Sans just say they don’t like it because they are following the crowd and they don’t have a thought-out, specific reason for why they themselves don’t like it.

    conclusion: people just want look cool

  32. Regeta says:

    I think everyone who says they dislike Comic Sans bc it is overused are all sheep without a mind of their own, as well as being very…well….they’re just idiots, and that’s the nice way of putting it.

    If you are unable to provide any REAL reason as to why Comic Sans shouldn’t be used, you are nothing more than a sheeple who says “Baaaaaaaaaa” whenever your cultural masters tell you to bark.

    “I have a deep hatred for you…BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE TOLD ME TO!!!!!!!!!!”

    The low level of moral thought and judgment as well as the inability to think for one’s self and use logic and reasoning (as opposed to irrational hatred) is quite frustrating for those of us who use our brains.


  33. Rachel says:

    I can understand why some may dislike Comic Sans; it certainly does have an “elementary school” connotation. I also think it would be highly unprofessional to use it on things like a business card, or something professional.

    However.. it’s a font for God’s sake. Anyone who says Comic Sans makes them want to “vomit,” “kick a baby,” or anything of the like is simply mad.

  34. Nonnu says:

    This discussion still goes on?
    This post is from December 16th, 2008!

    Like Rachel said: It’s a FONT!
    This discussion is starting to deserve a “Wingdings treatment” from David Carson

  35. Thanks for a sane take on Comic Sans, Rachel. Additionally, if design reflects life, the biggest windbags blowing against Comic Sans likely couldn’t–figuratively, now–carry Vince Connare’s jock in the design arena. In fact, most of them have, I bet, prob’ly never designed a type of their own and likely can’t appreciate the creative urge it requires.

  36. pepe says:

    I don’t get the hate for comic sans. It’s the same shit helvetica is. Fucking pretentious designers talk shit on the over usage of CS when they are putting helvetica on everything.

    i like comic sans.

  37. Ling says:

    Hm, I think some people must see things very differently from my point of view. When I see Comic Sans I just want to puke… :/

  38. Ana says:

    You know that normal people don’t give a damn if a font is “over used”, “bla bla bla”? Normal people, when they read, they want something appealing and Comic Sans is easy and appealing, and most times they don’t even know what font it is. Normal people won’t say “That advertising is a s*** because it uses Comic Sans!!!”. Normal people will look at it and maybe they will like it anyway!

    So stop that anormal hating of a font (it’s JUST a font) and stop talking about it like if it was a philosophic matter!

Brian Hoff
About Brian Hoff: Designer, Writer and Speaker

I’m a graphic designer living in Brooklyn, New York who loves creating compelling and useful websites and memorable interactions across the web. When I’m not designing I can be found writing, speaking and occasionally part-time teaching at colleges — all on the subject of design. I started this blog to share my passion and experiences with designers and clients. I'm most active on Twitter; say hello: