Dear Curriculum Writers, Don’t Use Comic Sans!

The other day, a homeschool curriculum I had vaguely considered was mentioned on a forum I read.  I felt compelled to point out that the entire curriculum was in comic sans.  Do you know what comic sans is?  It’s a font.  An unattractive, massively overused, completely unserious font that is loathed by most graphic designers.  Over the next couple of days, I thought about it and realized that it’s not just one or two curricula.  A surprising number of independently produced curricula use comic sans.  Numerous times over the last year or so I have had the experience of looking at a set of curriculum samples and realizing that the book I was considering was in comic sans and feeling a sense of turn off and disappointment.  I don’t assume that just because a press is small or independent that the quality of their writing, research, methodology or suggested educational activities are inferior.  On the other hand, the quality of their graphic design seems to be.  I wouldn’t want to base my buying choices on the font, but when I’m looking around, deciding what to use, I will freely admit it.  When I see comic sans, my first reaction is to close the samples window and move on.

The following curricula all use comic sans either as their primary font or heavily in their design scheme.  I’m sure there are others as well, but these happen to be ones where I noticed it over the last few months when I looked at their curriculum samples.

  • Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop
  • R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey
  • The Lab of Mr. Q
  • Progressive Phonics
  • Noeo
  • Writing Tales
  • Nancy Larson Science

I’m not trying to be cruel or petty.  Font choice and design is actually important to me.  I know my little blog isn’t the prettiest with its “I am completely free” limitations, and I freely admit that I’m no expert, but I do notice and appreciate good design.  Most of the programs listed above are respected programs which I heard good things about (they may not be the programs for us, but I clicked over to look at each one of them at some point because someone said they liked it).  Design isn’t just judging a book by its cover.  It can influence how we think and feel as well as ease of use.  It conveys a certain mood and attitude.  Let me tell you, the mood of comic sans isn’t really the mood I want for our homeschool.

So, if by some off chance any aspiring curriculum writers happen to be reading my blog, don’t use comic sans.  Please.  If you think its appropriate, maybe use one of these fonts instead.

11 thoughts on “Dear Curriculum Writers, Don’t Use Comic Sans!

  1. Comic sans is an immediate turn off for me-the way I see it is-if they couldn’t bother looking for something other than comic sans then what could they possibly have to tell me that I don’t already know?

    Maybe only a tiny bit snotty….

  2. When I was in Memphis last week I picked up the local free weekly paper and found myself taking it much more seriously than I do the Baltimore equivalent. When I stopped to think about the reasons why I felt that way, I realized that it was pretty much 100% the graphic design. The typeface and layout were much cleaner and more literary.

  3. Before my sons began to read I was really scornful of comic sans. It does lack gravitas.

    Comic sans was designed by Microsoft for use in children’s software programs. It’s the font that most closely resembles handwritten script and children can readily recreate comic sans in their copy work. As a parent, I appreciate its simplicity, ie lack of serifs and use of a non-fancy, lower-case letter -a. My boys stumble less when reading aloud passages of comic sans, versus courier or garamond. Because they’re not wasting time deciding “is that a letter -a or an upside down -e?,” they focus upon the meaning of the words.

    I believe that comic sans is uniquely suited to homeschool curriculum for primary grades. For legal documents? Not so much.

    1. Actually (according to Wikipedia – and I only know this because I happened to have looked it up before writing the blog entry) comic sans was developed for use in adult computer programs.

      I guess I just think that the fact that it’s more readable than a font like Garamond isn’t a good excuse either. Helvetica (or the rip off Ariel) is also simple and doesn’t have the ornate “a.” I also just don’t buy that because a kid is young that therefore a font this unappealing should be the standard. This bothered me when the kids were small too – why should I get them toys, clothes or products that are just plain ugly? I think kids deserve better design. It may include cute handwriting fonts, but sparingly for a whole text, I hope.

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