Bad typography has ruined more than just the Oscars

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  • Published on:  Tuesday, March 21, 2017
  • How bad graphic design changed award shows, elections, and your medicine cabinet.

    The 2017 Oscars ended with a pretty shocking mix-up. Announcer Warren Beatty incorrectly named La La Land as the Best Picture winner, and the mistake wasn't revealed until crew members had already started giving their acceptance speeches. A lot of things went wrong for the snafu to happen the way it did. But what if typography was one of them? A better announcement card design could have made for a very different Academy Awards show — not to mention a much less embarrassing Miss Universe show for Steve Harvey back in 2015. But the implications of bad typography don't end there: poorly designed ballots in the 2000 presidential election arguably could have swayed the outcome, and illegible type on medicine bottles could be causing nearly 500,000 cases of drug misuse per year in the U.S.

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  • Vox
    Vox  11 months ago +378

    For more videos about how design shapes the world around us, check out Christophe's new series, By Design:

  • Jason Wood
    Jason Wood  30 minutes ago


  • Muzzi
    Muzzi  2 days ago

    "As with a lot of design, it's hard to notice things that are done well until they aren't there anymore." <- thiss

  • Freshpinoy Boii
    Freshpinoy Boii  2 days ago

    What’s the song in the outro?

  • Timmy Cho
    Timmy Cho  4 days ago +1

    Woah what's that ending music u really love it

  • Minna Rose Ahlers
    Minna Rose Ahlers  5 days ago

    I'm baffled why serifs have disappeared from commercial typography in the US. Don't blame the Bauhaus School.

  • Murad Ahmed
    Murad Ahmed  6 days ago

    but even with the card looking the way it is, the card still said "Moonlight" with no sigh of "La La Land" unless I'm missing something.

  • Gayle Cheung
    Gayle Cheung  7 days ago


  • Ashley W
    Ashley W  7 days ago

    I miss those target Rx bottles so much!

  • Atom Ant
    Atom Ant  7 days ago

    What revisionist nonsense. The Oscars fiasco had nothing to do with typography. Beatty was handed the wrong card. If the typography was to blame then there would have been snafus earlier even with the correct cards.

  • Bryan
    Bryan  7 days ago

    Nice to know that a typographical failure led to 9/11 and an 18-year war in Iraq.

  • Thornbrow
    Thornbrow  7 days ago

    Part of the reason for this entire problem is that we've become accustomed to bad design. Take a look at nearly any official government form (at least in the US). How many of these forms are not only necessary, but actually enforced by law?

    It's a more complicated example than things like awards cards and pill labels, but think of how ubiquitous these are due to the fact that they're required by every single person (citizen or not!). Yet they're not only unclear, they're downright detrimental. With such poor building blocks and such a deep well of bad design, it's no wonder the non-designers among don't even realize what a problem it is.

  • Death The Kid
    Death The Kid  7 days ago


  • Chad Collins
    Chad Collins  14 days ago

    This video was a waste of time ? Who cares people are dying out there you guys.

  • sonu rohit
    sonu rohit  14 days ago

    What song plays at the end credits? Could somebody please tell me?

  • Anna T
    Anna T  14 days ago

    How did he get La La Land though?

  • Bruhmis
    Bruhmis  14 days ago

    Has the new bottle rolled out ?

  • Jacob E. Kelly
    Jacob E. Kelly  21 days ago

    What's the name of the outro piece/song?

  • Lauren Matal
    Lauren Matal  21 days ago

    This made me way more angry than I should be

  • Alexander
    Alexander  21 days ago

    To me, it has nothing to do with the design.. Its just common sense.