December 2021

Can Science Save the Comic Sans Font?

Blog #357 Comic Sans

Honestly, Comic Sans used appropriately, and in limited amounts, has its place for some applications, but not many brands would willingly choose it for their standard typeface. It is not gentle on the eye and portrays a lack of design sensibility.

Science, however, thinks everyone should use it! OK, by science we mean a psychologist named Daniel Oppenheimer who used Comic Sans to prove that the use of disfluent fonts resulted in higher and more accurate recall of information.

Dr. Oppenheimer’s experiment involved teachers teaching the same information to two different classes. For one class a standard font was used for all the presentation materials. The other class’s materials utilized only the Comic Sans font. After a few weeks, the ‘Comic Sans’ students performed significantly better on the test. Comic Sans for the win!

The real science Dr. Oppenheimer was trying to demonstrate was his theory that the brain has two distinct pathways for making sense of words. The fast, ventral pathway is the standard one we use to understands words. The dorsal pathway is used when we are concentrating more closely because of things like trying to understand difficult or obscure words – or because the font is just plain ugly.  Thus fonts like Comic Sans take the dorsal route and since we worked harder to understand it, we remember the message better.

Whether Dr. Oppenheimer was correct or not, the bottom line is an ugly font can be very off-putting to consumers and reflect badly on a brand’s image. The other challenge is once the brain gets use to a specific ugly font it will start travelling the ventral pathway and no longer lead to better recall. This means you would have to continually find new, uglier fonts to get the desired – through the dorsal pathway – effect.

To learn more about the science and art of effective marketing materials, give Insight Marketing Design’s award winning designers a call at 605-275-0011 or send them an email.

If they recommend you use nothing but Comic Sans, we’re pretty sure it is joke.

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