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Death to Comic Sans: The Worst Font for PowerPoint

If you don’t know what Comic Sans is, maybe you’re too ashamed to admit you do. It continues to grace countless homemade greeting cards, signs, banners, and sometimes, even PowerPoint presentations.

Despite many alternatives, Comic Sans retains a degree of prevalence, banking on its perception as a warm and fun typeface.

This perception, along with its overuse by amateur designers, contributes to its reputation as the worst font choice in any designed output. Before we dive deeper, let’s take a short look at its history.

Humble Roots

We can thank former Microsoft Employee Vincent Connare for the existence of this typographic blight. He claims that Comic Sans wasn’t initially designed as a usable typeface for Microsoft Office, but just for use in an application featuring a virtual canine assistant, Microsoft Bob.

In his own words:

“Comic Sans was NOT designed as a typeface but as a solution to a problem with the often overlooked part of a computer program’s interface, the typeface used to communicate the message.

There was no intention to include the font in other applications other than those designed for children when I designed Comic Sans. The inspiration came at the shock of seeing Times New Roman used in an inappropriate way.”

To be fair, the British Dyslexia Association considers the font easier to read than other fonts. Its legibility makes it easier for viewers to distinguish different glyphs and characters from each other. In addition, its handwritten design and curvy features lend it an air of friendliness and accessibility.

So why do people, especially designers, hate it?

An Ignoble Font

It’s the abundant misuse in inappropriate situations that’s handed Comic Sans its legacy as the worst font of all time. The friendliness mentioned is unfortunately not suited for how it’s been used. You’ve probably seen this a dizzying amount of times in office pantry signs, self-published greeting cards, and even some unwitting business signages.

Most likely, an unaware presenter may have even used it in his slides. It’s easy to reason that its bad rep is solely due to this abuse. Experts would beg to differ, noting its inconsistent kerning (spacing between characters) which make Comic Sans technically “ugly.”

No matter what, it can’t shake its image as cheap and unprofessional, given its common use by untrained designers.

So When Should I Use Comic Sans?

Never.

Save yourself from embarrassment. The people over at Ban Comic Sans Manifesto, expanding on its misuse, put it so:

“Comic Sans as a voice conveys silliness, childish naivete, irreverence, and is far too casual for such a purpose. It is analogous to showing up for a black tie event in a clown costume.”

In other words, Comic Sans is only good for communicating one thing: that you’re not a professional. There’s also no longer any excuse for resorting to this silly font. Even if you’re going for a more fun or aloof feel font for PowerPoint, there are so many other alternatives.

If you’re presenting to a professional audience, you’re better off sticking to the classics like Arial, Century Gothic, or Helvetica. Some may argue that they’re equally overused, but at least their look is clear, classy, and timeless. Still insist on injecting some fun into your slides? Ban Comic Sans can give you other alternatives.

In Summary

Comic Sans is a font that stumbled into its role as designers’ public enemy number one. Its overexposure and misuse has made it a target of much derision. The fact is, there are so many other free choices that come built into Microsoft Office.

We have serious serifs like Times New Roman, Garamond and the like for long bodies of text. There are more commanding sans serifs such as Impact, and you can count on Arial when you need to grab attention. In a perfect world, everyone would know the proper font choice for every situation.

Not everyone can be a PowerPoint professional, but anyone can easily learn to follow the general rule: avoid Comic Sans.

 

References

Ban Comic Sans Manifesto.Ban Comic Sans. n.d.
Connare, Vincent. “Why Comic Sans?” Connare: Art, Design & Typography. n. d.
Typefaces for Dyslexia. BDA Technology. March 20, 2011.
What’s so Wrong with Comic Sans?BBC News. October 20, 2010.

 

Featured Image: Ban Comic Sans” by Emanuele on flickr.com

Count from 6 to 10: A Quick Guide to Great Presentations

We’ve previously discussed how the numbers one to five can make your business presentations count. This was based off keynote speaker Stephen Boyd’s tips to create a presentation countdown. With our own take on it, let’s continue counting from number six to number ten.

6. Presenting after SIX o’clock P.M.

Business professionals work eight hours on a regular basis. After a long day, only a few stay later than six o’clock p.m. to polish their paperwork, web designs, PowerPoint slides, and the like. After all, we want to get back to our families and our lives, right?

Deliver your presentations as if you’re doing them after six in the evening. Embody the elements of fun, involvement, and learning to keep your audience awake. Treat your audience like close friends and family you’ve been longing to see. Sustain their interest from the beginning to end, no matter how late it is.

7. Seven Means Complete

According to the Bible, the number seven has three Hebrew roots: saba, shaba and sheba. These three biblical ideas are associated with oaths, perfection, and completeness. Whether you’re delivering a pitch to a potential client or discoursing a monthly report with co-workers, your PowerPoint presentation should contain complete data.

Providing evidence supports your argument or main idea. Maximize the use of graphs and charts, statistics, and other visuals for a more comprehensive discussion. Inevitably, your audience will have questions or clarifications which you can tackle in a Q&A session. However, it pays to address all of these possible questions from the beginning to make things easier for everyone.

8. Eight for Affinity

The number eight is drawn with two interconnecting circles. Lacking one circle, either at the top or at the bottom, means you have zero. Presentations are about making connections. Your business speech is useless without an audience.

Command interest by connecting with them on a personal level. You can best engage an audience by exuding a credible aura, by appealing to their emotions, or by challenging their intellect. Building networks after your business pitch is another way to solidify your core message, and get viable results as well.

9. Nine for Anticipation

Where there’s nine, an end is anticipated — nine is followed by ten, ninety-nine makes way for one hundred, and so on. Anticipating unforeseeable circumstances in your talk is a good presentation skill. Don’t make your audience tune out because you panicked or lost your train of thought. Always be prepared for whatever can go wrong in a speaking engagement.

Planning ahead increases your chances of foreseeing or dealing with such problems.

10. Perfect Ten

There’s no denying that the number ten connotes perfection. Ten is a rounded number, which is why our counting system is based on the power of ten. We rate things with one being the lowest and ten being the highest. Striving for perfection is the best mindset for succeeding in your business presentation.

Make sure that your PowerPoint design has the perfect font combo and title slide. Reinforce it with confident delivery and compelling content. Always aim for a deck that will get a perfect ten rating.

To Sum It Up

Use numbers six to ten as your guide for delivering fun, complete, engaging, planned, and perfect business presentations. Remember the importance of connecting to your audience, sharing complete and pertinent data, appealing to emotions, anticipating crises, and striving for perfection.

Need a PowerPoint deck to give you an edge? Check out our portfolio for inspiration, or contact our slide design experts for a free quote.

 

References

Boyd, Stephen. “Public Speaking By Numbers.” Speaking-Tips, August 17, 2011. Accessed June 10, 2015.
Count from 1 to 5: A Quick Guide to Great Presentations.” SlideGenius, Inc. July 14, 2015. Accessed August 27, 2015.