Higgs boson discovery announcement
5 Comments on “Higgs boson discovery announcement”
Thanks for the contribution, Benjamin. This use of Comic Sans certainly raised a stir. For typophiles at least, it seemed to generate as much press as the “god particle” discovery itself. Some examples: The Guardian, Co.Design, The Verge, BuzzFeed, and a video from the notorious Next Animation Studio (below).
Thanks, Stephen. I was reminded of this use in the run up to the announcement of gravitational waves, and was surprised not to find it here.
As a biochemistry graduate with a bit of university admin experience, I can confirm that Comic Sans has long been inescapable in university use, despite having seen umpteen style guides from universities advising variants of “if you can’t get a licence to our corporate fonts just use Palatino and Arial, nobody ever made a fool of themself using those”. I’m a little more surprised to see it in something like this (those slides! my eyes!) where you’d have thought some press officers would have been involved. (An increasing trend, I believe, is for hard sciences people to export slides directly from LATeX, but it’s clear that this isn’t one of those people. And to be fair, putting this pictures in LATeX would not be much fun.)
It’s a little odd, since (as Tufte noted) PowerPoint is ghastly for science use (note the far-too-small superscripts for ^-1 – couldn’t they have been told to at least put those in bold?) but I think nobody has time to learn anything nicer. Some universities do run communications skills classes for graduate students to avoid stuff like this.
But surely this is intentional 'non-design’? It looks far too considered to be accidental.
You clearly haven’t had any contact with any academic science research institutions in the last twenty years. Trust me, graphic design is a small and very insular world that really tends to set its own standards of what it likes and considers to be in good taste, and few people in the science world have any reason to waste time caring what it thinks. This is what university style guides are for: to help science people produce slides that aren’t too dreadful.
You have no idea how many extremely serious, sober and sensible scientists when left alone with PowerPoint will produce something that looks like a flyer for a children’s birthday party designed in 1996. (More concrete reason why it’s a bad idea: not because anyone in universities really worries about what graphic designers have decided looks dated this year, decade or indeed century, but you can’t read the handouts if they’re printed out in black and white).
The second I saw this, I knew that it wasn’t some kind of knowing spoof of Comic Sans’ overuse. It’s not some kind of wacky parody like something Businessweek would do, that’s clearly created by professional designers throwing out the rulebook for taste.
This is someone whose job is fundamentally to understand particle physics, not produce great design, thinking “Let’s make everything more cheerful!! More colours everywhere!! What could possibly go wrong with that!?”
For more information, read an interview with the designer, Dr. Fabiola Gianotti (now CERN’s director), who designed the slide deck.