Mission Impossible – Verdana Protocol

A font designer takes issue with one aspect of the new Mission Impossible movie.. Here’s an excerpt of the letter he sent to director Brad Bird.

As a moviegoer, no complaints.

But as a type designer — meaning someone who designs fonts — one quibble. A number of scenes had subtitles or captions. All these were set in the font Verdana. There are two problems with Verdana.

First it’s not functionally suitable. Verdana is a Microsoft font, designed in 1996 to optimize the legibility of small-font text on low resolution computer screens. It wasn’t intended for large-size text on high-resolution movie screens.

Second, it’s not stylistically suitable. Verdana is a built-in font on nearly every Windows and Mac computer. It’s used on zillions of web pages. It’s ubiquitous. Therefore, the person who uses Verdana suggest to readers “I couldn’t be bothered to pick anything better.” It’s also well-known as the corporate font for IKEA — probably not the association you’re going for.

My only problem with the letter is that he doesn’t suggest a more appropriate font. Comic Sans, perhaps?

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