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
- 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.