Can you tell the difference between a serif and a sans serif typeface?
Don’t worry, if you answered, “No,” you are not alone. Before starting graphic design or website design projects for new clients, I often ask whether they prefer a serif or sans-serif typeface. Many do not know the difference between the two. If it’s the same for you, the following definition may help.
In typography, the line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or a symbol, is called a serif. Therefore, a typeface with serifs is called a “serif” typeface. A typeface without serifs is called “sans serif” from the French word “sans” meaning “without.”
Serif Type Styles
- Old Style (e.g. Goudy Old Style)
- Transitional (e.g. Georgia)
- Neoclassical & Didone (e.g. Bodoni)
- Slab (e.g. Rockwell)
- Clarendon (e.g. Bookman Old Style)
- Glyphic (e.g. Trajan)
Sans Serif Type Styles
- Grotesque (e.g. Helvetica)
- Square (e.g. Eurostile)
- Humanistic (e.g. Gill Sans)
- Geometric (e.g. Futura)
Some common serif typefaces include Times (or Times New Roman), Goudy, Cambria, Century, Georgia and Rockwell. Some common sans serif fonts include Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Tahoma, Calibri, Century Gothic, AvantGarde and Bell Gothic.