Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Notes on Sans Serif and Serif Fonts

Notes on Serif and Sans Serif Typefaces
Vidit Bhargava

Until recently I wasn't really interested in typography analysis, Myriad Pro was as good for me as Helvetica. Frankly I didn't even know what a serif was! But just a few days ago when I reading a post by Dave Wiskus regarding the design of his new app Vesper, I was fascinated to see just how many fonts they actually went through to choose the 'right' font. I was intrigued!
(You can read about designing Vesper over here: 

The first thing i wanted to know about fonts was The difference between Sans Serif And Serif Fonts. I did a bit of Wikipedia search to find out much more about it. This image explains the basic difference in a serif and Sans Serif font.

On computer screens serifs tend to be disproportionately be larger and harder to read than in print. Hence the general inclination towards sans serif. Sans Serif is more legible on a computer screen. However in Print, Serifs tend to be more legible and are highly preferred as body text fonts, while sans serifs aren't really good for print reading. Hence, what Helvetica is to computers, Times New Roman is to the printed text!

-- Note: As we move further into this post you'll only find a deeper classification of fonts. The information about classifications are based only on my reading of the Wikipedia articles --

Sans Serif Fonts are further classified into four categories

Grotesque: Ancient Sans Serif 

Neo Grotesque: These are Modern Sans Serif Typefaces. The Most commonly seen Sans Serifs today belong to this category.

Humanist: They are the most Calligraphic of the four types and are also the most legible of all the sans Serif fonts. 

Geometric: These fonts are based on perfect circles and squares. 

Serif Fonts are also classified into four different categories:

Old Style: These typefaces are so old that they date back to 1465! Old Style serifs are also usually referred to as Humanist fonts. They generally have a diagonal stressing. Example: Adobe Garamond

Baroque: These are transitional typefaces which date somewhere between the old and modern (didone) serif fonts. The differences in thick and thin lines are more pronounced than the old style. Example: Times New Roman

Didone: These are modern serif typefaces, they have a vertical stressing and are characterized by an extreme contrast in thick and thin lines. Example.: Badoni

Slab Serif: These fonts have little or no difference in thick and thin lines and their serifs are usually as thick as the vertical lines, giving them a bold look.
Example: Rockwell

Source: Wikipedia: 
You can read more here:

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