Comic Sans fans rejoice: it seems the unwieldy font actually promotes better reading comprehension. The Comic Sans backlash backlash gained steam last summer when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert published his anguished screed decrying the loss of his franchise centerpiece, basketballer LeBron James. At that time, basketball fans and Comic Sans proponents came together, struck simultaneously by medium and message: Cleveland, "You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal."
Thanks to research, there's mounting evidence implying that the lowly Comic Sans actually has some advantages over other, more pretentiously (read: better) designed fonts. In September, The Atlantic's John Pavlus noted a forthcoming study confirming that Comic Sans font--for whatever reason--made participants "twice as likely" to divulge embarrassing or unethical behavior to a website. What the research suggested, observed Pavlus, was that "'an unprofessional-looking interface' may make users more likely to part with sensitive data than a more polished design." And, really, what could be less professional than Comic Sans?
Now, in the aptly-titled "Revenge of Comic Sans," Dave Munger has unearthed another surprising bit of science: Comic Sans is one of the better fonts for encouraging reading comprehension, perhaps because its "fun" design is more difficult to read. He points to a blogged study wherein researchers asked 28 students to "read about a hypothetical alien species from a sheet printed in either 16-point Arial, 12-point Bodoni, or, yes, 12-point Comic Sans." You guessed it: the plucky Sans enabled these students to better recall the details about the aliens, "perhaps because [it] force[s] slower, more careful reading."
Munger appears disheartened by these results. "If, in the next century, the latest research supports printing thousand-page biology texts in 12-point Comic Sans, Claude Garamond and Frederic Goudy won't be the only ones rolling in their graves. I will be, too," he laments.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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