Thursday, August 23, 2012

Pastors don't let your bulletins print out in Comic Sans...

My wife's family is a lineage of printers to which graphic artists, videographers, and other artistic endeavors have been added over the years.  I have to defer to her wisdom and good eye (by the way, don't let her near something to proofread unless you can bear the full truth of your failings in vocabulary, writing style, grammar, and literacy).  One of the things I have learned from this pool of wisdom is to resist the temptation to print serious things in less than serious fonts.  In addition I have also learned not to indulge in a smorgasbord of fonts in one document -- a font for headlines and one for the body of the thing and that is about enough.

Unfortunately, there are so many folks who think frivolous type styles are just the thing.  They print out serious stuff in less than serious fonts.  This past summer I endured a less than salutary District Convention service printed out entirely in Comic Sans.

The Divine Service is the most serious of occasions.  It is the intersection of time and eternity by God's design and grace.  Our Lord brings heaven near to us in the means of grace.  In the balance, sins are forgiven, lives are reborn, hearts are moved to repentance, and everlasting life is bestowed.  This is serious stuff.  Don't trivialize the serious by framing the whole thing in a font which is meant to be used for a punch line under a cartoon! 

No, you do not have to use some Anglicized imitation of the typeface used in Great Grandma's German Bible.  No, you do not have to use some old English font that offers flourishes and antiquated forms of the alphabet.  Just use something weighty and serious.  Try Times Roman or Georgia or Garamond.  And while you are at it, skip the modern font faces like Arial or Helvetica.  They are fine for headlines but for folks who need reading glasses they are less than clear.

Some fonts tell you by their name that they are not for serious stuff.  Like the font family known as Jokerman.  Worship is not a joke.  God is not a joker.  Don't treat the serious stuff of the Divine Service as a joke.  This comes pretty darn close to mocking a God who will not be mocked.  We do not help anything by trying to lighten the mood by a cutsie type face.  We only make the most serious and truthful and powerful words -- the Word of the Lord -- into something trite, trivial, and impotent.  It is amazing what a simple thing like a font can communicate!

If you print things out, why not invest in Lutheran Service Builder.  Then you can use the neat little symbols for Pastor, Congregation, etc...  Look at the hymnal and try match the type faces used there. So, if only to allow me some rest, think twice about looking at the font list as your arts and crafts time in preparing the Sunday bulletin.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I absolutely agree with this discussion. The availability of a wide variety of fonts has led to a desire to experiment and a loss of perspective as to what is appropriate and what is not in various situations. Pastor Peters is spot on here.

Fr. D.
Anglican Priest

Janis Williams said...

Not only experimentation in fonts, but experimentation in conducting worship!

My general response to many of the Seeker-Sensitive/Emergent sermons on YouTube and in MP3 format (technology can be good...) is exactly that..., "Seriously????"

A question Fr. Peters. Is blasphemy generally flippant in your experience?

Rev. Dustin Beck said...

Garamond is where it's at. Elegant, classy, not Times New Roman.

Anonymous said...

What's the font use in Lutheran Service Book? What's wrong with it? Maybe it would be too simple to pick up a book and use it, instead of wasting time, paper, money, and effort in making silly bulletins that are discarded.

Rev. Matthew D. Ruesch said...

Thank you, Rev. Peters! As a pastor who was a graphic design major, I appreciate your contribution towards more aesthetically pleasing bulletins and church publications. We don't have Lutheran Service Builder, but we do have the liturgy license and print the Introit and Gradual in our bulletin each week. You can actually download the "LSBSymbol" font here: http://cphconnect.org/builder/2007/04/04/the-lsb-symbol-truetype-font/

Michael G said...

Right. Two typefaces only, please.

Another obnoxious formatting issue that comes directly out of LCMS schools is paragraphs that are fully justified. Please. Unless you have professional typesetting equipment or you take the extra time required to kern your body copy correctly, use left-justified only paragraphs in Word or Publisher.

This also applies to blogs!

Tapani Simojoki said...

I have recently made the Anglican move to Gill Sans (despite some of its weaknesses). This after a conversation with a local organisation for the visually impaired, who encouraged me to use a large sans serif font for clarity (and left-justified paragraphs).

Otherwise, I'm a Garamond (& other Antiqua) fan myself.

P.S. What I can't abide is paying for a licence to copy Bible verses, or asking other people to do so.