Since the arrival of computers any of us has more than 100 fonts at our fingertips. It is gorgeous to have so many possibilities, but at the same time it is a problem. Which one will you choose for your next project? Sorting the different fonts into categories helps us decide and match different fonts successfully.
There is a lot of different font categories (we will talk about them on later posts), although the principal categories are six. These categories are Oldstyle, Modern, Slab serif (these three are from a main category named Serif), Sans serif and Scripts. On this post we will talk about serif and sans serif fonts.
What is a serif font? It is a font that has serifs, that’s it. If the font doesn’t have serifs is a sans serif (meaning without serif). It was easy, right? Of course, there are other differences between serif fonts and sans serif fonts, but by now I think that is enough.
Then, why knowing the categories can help me selecting fonts? Because there are a few easy tips based on these categories.
✂ Use Serif fonts for body text.
Serif fonts have a great readability– thus they are better for longer texts (This statement is a bit controversial, I know. But, I think it is still true. If you want to know more, read this great post from Alex Poole).
I always use a serif font for the body text of my blog (these words are written with Josefin slab).
✂ Title it with Sans serif fonts.
The sans serif fonts are simpler, more functional and more geometrical than serif fonts. That makes serif fonts more striking. Use them for titles and ads. The name of A brand made of glitter and the post titles are written with Disco.
✂ Mix them.
Don’t use two fonts of the same category together– mix them. Fonts of the same category are so similar that they don’t contrast. They look weird, but if you mix them you will have an instant (an easy) success.
✂ Weight matters.
Use different weights of the same font to create a terrific contrast. This tip works well with serif, but it works like a charm with sans serif fonts. Really, L-I-K-E-A-C-H-A-R-M.
✂ Classic versus Modern.
Usually, and this is a big generalisation, serif fonts are more classic and sans serif are more modern. So, if you are looking for a modern design use a serif font as Helvetica or Futura. For a more classic look, fonts as Clarendon or Garamond will do the trick. (Be careful with this tip, Modern fonts are serif fonts, but as the name implies, they are … modern).
✂ Consider trendy fonts…
The typography world has its trends, too. In fact, everybody seems to love Helvetica. Thus, if you are designing something and you want to have the all-the-world-designers love, use Helvetica. In general, there is a trend out there on behalf of sans serif fonts. I don’t know, I kinda love serif fonts
✂… Avoid hated fonts.
As there are some loved-without-measure fonts, there are also hated-above-everything fonts– Comic sans. Really, don’t use it, full stop. If you don’t believe me just google “comic sans hate”.
You are now ready to start designing with serif and sans serif fonts. If you fancy to know more about the history of the typography watch this great video from Ben Barrett-Forrest.