Comic Sans is one of the more divisive fonts. For some, it’s considered unprofessional at best and tacky at worst, and has often been used by passive-aggressive people to annoy those who prefer a Times New Romans over the curvy and less refined typeface.
But there’s one consideration: what if Comic Sans actually helps people with dyslexia to read and absorb information easier?
Dyslexia affects an estimated 10 per cent of Australians and is a common language-based learning disability that can manifest in difficulty deciphering similar characters, decoding words, and converting letter symbols to sound (and the other way around).
What’s interesting about the contentious Comic Sans font is that inbuilt in its design is a feature that makes it easier for those with dyslexia to read than a standard font. Like the fabulous Dyslexiefont – the font specifically designed for those living with dyslexia – Comic Sans creates opposing shapes for letters that are generally similar. Other typefaces typically mirror different letters, like flipping a “p” to become a “q” (although “b” is mirrored as “d”), making it particularly difficult to decipher. These irregularities of the shapes of the words help people to isolate the different letters and assist with the correct processing of letters and words. Serif fonts, for example, which have ticks and tails at the end of most strokes, can obscure the shape of letters.
Comic Sans is so dyslexia-friendly, the British Dyslexia Association has even recommended it as a typeface for clearer reading.
Designed in the ’90s by Vincent Connare, a typographic engineer who worked at Microsoft, it was inspired by the lettering of John Costanza in the comic The Dark Knight Returns as an alternative from Times New Romans in the speech bubbles. (Hence why haters relegate it to the realm of unprofessional or humorous.)
A frustration for many people who live with dyslexia is the barrier to being able to use a dyslexia-friendly font like Comic Sans in everyday life. Handing in an essay written in Comic Sans is a no-no, for example, as is submitting a Comic Sans resume – an instant career-limiting move, and try finding a website, novel, magazine or newspaper that uses it.
Good news for those who would find living in a world of comic typefaces easier, though: there are a few other fonts that enable easier reading. In addition to Dyslexiefont, standards like Lexie Readable, Century Gothic, Verdana, Calibri and Trebuchet are also helpful. There’s also a Google Chrome plug-in called Comic Sans Everywhere, which as the name would suggest, turns the web into a Comic Sans fest.