Court allows Comic Sans font in documents

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  • Under the Supreme Court's "Efficient Use of Paper Rule," courts are allowed to use a font of their choice as long as it is readable.

(CNN Philippines) — People got fired up on social media upon seeing a photo of the Court of Appeals (CA) freeze order last Monday (March 16) against Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.’s suspension.

The said photo shows the appellate court's temporary restraining order (TRO) granting a 60-day reprieve on the suspension issued by the Ombudsman.

What caught the netizens' attention, however, was not the nature of the document or its content, but its use of the font Comic Sans a casual script typeface inspired by comic book lettering.

'Childish' font

Fonts have personality and purpose, the website Comic Sans Criminal argued. And Comic Sans is "fun, childish, and informal" in character, it added.

To some people, the font has no place in a formal court document.

Netizen Kim Arveen Patria was among the first ones to post the photo of the court ruling on his Facebook account — just a few hours after the CA document was released Monday.

Quickly, comments came flooding in.

One commenter pitied the way the font is never taken seriously.

Another asked: “Who is the preschool pupil who encoded this?”

But Ayrie Ching, who worked in an organization that monitors human rights violations in Mindanao, raised her concern on the attention being gathered by the post.

“If using Comic Sans in a TRO gets you all riled up but having 99,000++ evacuees in a single province doesn't make you feel anything, then I think we need to think about our priorities for a minute,” her Facebook status read.

Jeff Crisostomo, who works as a media officer at Congress, also posted the photo of the CA document on his Facebook account.

Upon seeing the photo, Crisostomo said that the reaction of people over the photo is reflective of a deeper issue.

“The ‘Comic Sans scandal’ may seem trivial, but the public reaction is reflective of the Filipino coping mechanism of using humor to deal with frustration — from the seeming lack of professionalism in the government functions (seen in the choice of typeface) to the actual subject of the court document (Mayor Binay),” Crisostomo said.

Font free-for-all

In the  Supreme Court's (SC) “Efficient Use of Paper Rule,” it required all decisions, resolutions, and orders issued by courts under its administrative supervision to be printed on a long white bond paper (13-inch by 8.5-inch) using a font size of 14.

Font choice, however, is a non-issue to the SC as long as it’s readable.

Even a look at the digital versions of decisions and resolutions on the CA website will show its diverse font usage.

The rule was issued to curb the excessive use of paper in the courts, and consequently to mitigate the worsening effects of climate change.

But font choice does matter, the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) said.

In its explanation of fonts titled "Using Fonts with Purpose," it said the visual appearance of words has an effect on how a document is received.

"Fonts can create mood and atmosphere. Fonts can give visual clues about the order a document should be read in and which parts are more important than others. Fonts can even be used to control how long it takes someone to read a document," it explained.