Saturday, 2 April 2011

Tripping the light font taste test

Wikipedia pulled a witty April Fool's stunt yesterday. For "witty", read "rather esoteric in-joke". The only reason I got the joke (in an off-side kind of way) is that when I'm avoiding things I'm supposed to be doing, I read through the comments on postings on Passive-Aggressive Notes, a site that collects notes, very few of which are truly passive-aggressive, although the site-host(s) readily admit to this. One of the key things I have learned from piddling my time away at PAN is that Comic Sans is bad. Comic Sans is the equivalent of portraits of Elvis Presley painted on velvet, ruffled tux shirts, having "Sometimes When We Touch" sung at your wedding. Or, according to one of those insufferable London press fashionistas, wearing a cape. You know, the ones who decree every year what we should and shouldn't be wearing and what losers we are if we don't comply? Am I the only one who wants to slap them?

Comic Sans is a font (yes, it's okay if you didn't know this), and Wikipedia's big joke on April 1st was using Comic Sans in their entry on Helvetica which (apparently) is a very tasteful font even if its name does remind me of cheap cheese.

I've got nothing against Comic Sans, or Helvetica for that matter, although I now know that I dare not use the former if I'm ever to be taken seriously. Up until recently, I had no idea that I was being judged on my choice of font. I guess the fact that I usually use whatever default font is available (usually Arial or Times New Roman) betrays me as being hopelessly unimaginative or completely lacking in initiative.

Frankly, my favourite font ever was a "Harry Potter" one that computer-savvy elder daughter (then about age ten) downloaded for us. It got lost when our computer went foom, and since I have no idea how to download fonts, I use whatever's available on Outlook Express or Word Perfect. When I do choose, it's Calligrapher when I want to take up a lot of space and Perpetua when I don't.

Of course, someone with a lot of time on their hands came up with a clever online test to determine "the font that is best for you". You've probably seen it. I took it for the second time a few weeks ago, having forgotten I'd already taken it months ago and my result this second time was: Okay, I may not have anything against Comic Sans, but I think Plastica is vile. This font sucks. It was apparently assigned to me because (supposedly) I'm emotional, understated, traditional, and relaxed. Plastica doesn't say any of that to me, besides, I'm reasonably sure that last time I took this silly test, I got Archer Hairline (emotional, understated, progressive, disciplined -- apparently I've deteriorated and backslid between the first and second takings of this test) which was okay, but I couldn't find it anywhere. Besides, of the fonts available on the quiz, I only really liked Baskerville Italic(rational-understated-traditional-relaxed) and Perpetua Titling Light(rational-understated-traditional-disciplined), but the latter appears to be only in upper-case, so I'd be shouting all the time. But very tastefully. Besides, I thought it was called Perpetua Tilting Light which I found far more appealing, and so was rather put off when I discovered its true name while attempting to google it.

So, lessons learned:
1. Comic Sans is to be avoided, unless, of course, you're being ironic and everyone else gets the joke.
2. If you take on-line quizzes seriously, you're a fool in more than April.

I wonder if I can find an ironic way to wear my cape.


Vol-E said...

According to my test results, mine is Dot Matrix. Riiiiiiiight.

Current favorite for me is Estrangelo Edessa. Clear & honest like Arial and Century Gothic, but just a little more elegant.

SOL's view said...

I always liked Comic Sans because it was clear, concise and easily read. So there you go.

Like you, I usually go for the default font. Unless I'm writing something special. Which isn't likely. :)

Persephone said...

Apparently the experts back you up, SOL. Comic Sans wins out in tests for readability and may actually promote reading comprehension.

Whence this switch from Volly to Vol-E, Vol-E? Is it just the clever allusion?