DFAT uses "Kim Kardashian of fonts" on passport forms

THE world's most despised font has popped up on one of the most critical Australian Government forms, used by anyone wanting to apply renew or apply for a passport.

Described by an expert as the "Kim Kardashian of fonts", the use of Comic Sans - which appears as the scrawl of a child - has become the target of worldwide derision for being both overused and almost universally unsuitable.

On passport application forms used by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the font directs the reader where to write.



According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, it has been used since 2008 "in areas of the form requiring a hand-written response".

"As an informal font, Comic Sans was suited to this purpose."

Since it was put on the forms, Australians have travelled abroad more than 55.5 million times. Often the passport and the information it holds is their key form of identification while overseas.



An example of the Comic Sans type.
An example of the Comic Sans type.


Queensland College of Art deputy director Dr Dominique Falla compared the font choice to choosing notoriously divisive celebrity Kim Kardashian to open an event.

It comes with baggage.

"There are a lot of celebrities, then there is Kim Kardashian," she said.

"In fonts, there are handwriting fonts, and friendly fonts that make you want to fill in your name and address - then there is Comic Sans."

Dr Falla, who has a doctorate in typography, said these decisions can be of "life and death importance".

Dr Falla said in potentially life-threatening situations, including when Australians overseas were relying on their passports as identification, fonts were critical to ensure people knew how to fill out the form.

"They're about communicating a particular message," Dr Falla said.

"I've done a lot of design work with the Mater Hospital where they have redesigned their forms - where signing off on an operation -- you don't want to end up with doctors taking the wrong leg off.

"If I was put in charge of designing the passport forms and had the concept that people had to know where to write in place of where to read, I would do a study on which functioned the best."

She said the font was probably chosen "because someone had heard of it", not because it was tested.

DFAT declined to say whether or not it had tested the document before publication.


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