Whats the difference between Serif and San Serif?

Fonts are an important part of a brand, from logo, brochures, business cards and website. Each font has a slightly different connotation. This article is a brief tutorial in the different typefaces.

Serif Font

A Serif is the little line that trails off a letter shape. The most common serif typefaces are Times (New) Roman, Baskerville, Caslon, Garamond and Bodoni but there are plenty more. Serif fonts have always been seen as more traditional typeface. There are on going debates as to whether Serif or San Serif is easier on the eye to read.

San Serif Font

Once you understand what a Serif is, its easy to explain a San Serif, without the trailing lines. Popular san serifs include Helvetica, Arial, Geneva, Tahoma and Verdana. San serif fonts are used widely on the internet. They are considered as more contemporary then the Serif font.

Slab Serif Font

Although Serif and San Serif are the main types there are others included Slab Serif. Slab Serif is a font with a thick bold serif. Rockwell is the best known Slab Serif although typewriter style fonts are also Slab Serif like Courier and American Typewriter. Urban brands like The Cowshed have bought back the use of Typewriter style fonts.

Other font styles include script fonts, handwriting fonts and many more.

Fonts Online

When using fonts online you need to either stick to the basic web standard fonts or use additional code to embed a web font. The problem with fonts online are you are reliant on your reader having the font you have chosen on their computer. However with web fonts the font is stored online. Google have created a great collection of web fonts, another is Typekit (recently purchased by Adobe).

Further Reading

Simon Garfield’s book “Just My Type” is not only a book about fonts its an interesting look at how we use fonts and the stories behind them.

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