Why do memes all have white capital letters?

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This article is published in partnership with Quora, platform on which Internet users can ask questions and where others, specialists of the subject, answer them.

The question of the day: "Why are white capital letters so much used in memes?"

The answer of Archie D'Cruz, editor, designer, author:

The vast majority of memes on the internet today are created using meme generators, online tools that allow you to select an image, add your text, and publish the result on them. social networks. It does not take more than a minute and you do not have to fiddle with Photoshop.

The common point between almost all generators is the default font setting: white capital letters with a black outline, which make the text readable, whether the image on which it is affixed is light or dark.

Most popular meme generators do not allow you to change font, color or case, but even those that offer this option, users tend to neglect it. This is the reason why memes almost all look like this:

But why did this font become the default setting? This is where Microsoft comes in.

A clear, strong, readable style

The font used in most memes is Impact, a font created in the 1960s as the Swiss typographic style (clear, strong, readable) began to dominate graphic design. Impact was imagined by Geoff Lee, who sold it to the British letterpress foundry, Stephenson Blake, which in turn sold it to Monotype after it stopped working in the field of typography.

As the Internet grew in popularity in the 1990s, Microsoft ran a project, Core fonts for the Web, to create a set of basic fonts for the Web.

The company then distributed eleven freeware fonts, including the Monotype Impact, free of charge. These different fonts were included in the Windows 98 operating system, which dominated the market at the time.

It is therefore not surprising that the first memes, which were created with Paint or Photoshop, were designed with Impact. With Arial Black, it was by far the strongest font of the Core fonts and the most legible when placed on an image. But unlike Arial, it was also very condensed, which allowed to put more letters in a given space.

When websites with meme generators came to the fore, Impact naturally became the font of choice: it was free and readable on almost any image.

Over the years, sites have tried to stand out – by offering a variety of font choices, by cramming the image under the text, placing the text above and below the images, putting the text in boxes. but today, using Impact in white caps for memes has become a kind of meme in itself.