You’ll see a trend in the evolution of serif type if you read my guide to serifs again. The serifs get thinner, the lines and crossbars go straighter, and the crossbars lose their calligraphic appearance as you move from the old humanist type to the smooth Modern serif. Sans-serifs have a more difficult route.

There are some incredibly old examples of sans-serif type written in Latin, Etruscan, and Greek letterforms, despite the fact that sans-serif type has the reputation of being a “modern” typographic style. 

Thomas Dempster, a Scottish scholar, first discussed the usage of sans-serif type in his book De Etruria regali, libri VII, published in 1723. One of the first foundries to create sans-serif type was Caslon, which produced types for the Etruscan language in the middle of the 18th century. 

A New Identity for a New Era

The only way to understanding the sans-serif’s growth is to understand its context. Early in the nineteenth century, the new Republic of France started to center on a different kind of identity that reflected both their new ideologies and the industrialized economic environment. 

People in the fields of typography, architecture, and art were either clinging to the past or pursuing the future, or both. 

As a result, all of the period’s artistic styles exhibited a sense of disarray. This image, which mixes a big, fat-faced byline with normal serif text and a sans-serif headline, serves as a wonderful illustration.

Sans-Serif Typeface

In 1816, William Caslon released a type sample of his innovative Sans-serif style. The sample quickly became well-known throughout Europe under the names “Grotesque” and “Sans Serif.” 

Although the development of sans-serif shapes is significantly more intricate, they can be divided into three categories: geometric sans-serif, humanist sans-serif, and grotesque sans-serif.

Helvetica, Universe, Akzidenz-Grotesque, and Normal Grotesque are examples of its early forms, as are the sans-serif itself. Grotesques are the typical sans-serif.

I get the impression that the monster shape is stern, solid, reliable, and occasionally serious. Low contrast and a preference for straight (horizontal, vertical, diagonal) strokes over curves, counters, and ‘r’ terminals characterize the strokes. The letters aren’t as funny because of this.  

What gives the awful shape significance is what that sturdiness denotes. The obscene form has a foundational architectural history. The letters lack a sense of beauty and expression, feeling more rational and “physical,” like 1960s American home constructions or mid-century Chicago commercial towers. 

In fact, understanding early grotesque typefaces as well as early geometric designs like Futura and Erbar Grotesk requires an awareness of the connection between the grotesque shape and early twentieth-century architecture.

Sans-serif fonts: what function do they serve in design?

The idea that sans-serifs are friendlier and more “modern” than serifs, which are more “old” and “classy,” is one that is frequently held. This, however, is far too elementary to be of any value. 

Serifs work better for text whereas sans-serifs work better for headers and titles, according to a more accurate design generalization. Although this frequently produces effective works, the concept nonetheless creates a binary that can—and frequently is—easily broken.

We consider headlines to be places for succinct and alluring descriptions, thus there is a basis for this assumption. Several sans serif fonts can convey conciseness by their shape in the appropriate context. 

Once the headline size exceeds a specific threshold, their low stroke contrast allows for continuous thickness and creates the shape’s simplicity, making headlines easier on the eyes. I find the headlines on Autostraddle more interesting than, say, those on Metro News.

Post-old-style serifs, on the other hand, are said to be easier to read in dense text bodies due to their great contrast. However, there are situations where these ideas do not apply. The best illustration I can give is Twitter, which uses a straightforward Arial/Helvetica typeface. 

The use of publicly accessible, easily loadable sans-serifs by Twitter works astonishingly well, even if we are aware that serifs are preferable for dense writing. In fact, when using third-party Twitter apps, I’ve noticed the opposite, where using classic serifs like Times made the timeline harder to view. 

Together with Twitter’s density, Times New Roman’s lowered contrast created a type environment that was too “textured”; too many lines of various sizes muddled together, making it challenging to tell what was what.

Advice on Picking the Correct Fonts

After learning about the various types of typefaces, think about how to choose the ideal font for your brand’s identity. 

While most of the typefaces in the list above have unique characteristics of their own, not all of them are created with your company’s needs in mind. So pick a font that captures the spirit of your company.

1. Serif

For designing books, blogs, magazines, and other long-form content, serif fonts are perfect. This is mostly because serifs make it easier for our eyes to easily follow the letterforms.

2. Sans Serif 

Sans Serif fonts are versatile types that can be utilized to add some flair and individuality to your design, even if many of the fonts in this category are neutral. If it’s vital to maintain a design’s simplicity, cleanliness, and modern aesthetic, use them.

3. Script font

Choosing a script font will help your design have an old-fashioned or retro feel. Some businesses try to portray themselves as traditional businesses. These typefaces are usable by them. Because of this, many book covers, wedding invitations, and historical places use fonts that are identical to one another.

4. Calligraphy and handwriting

Use calligraphic and handwritten typefaces if your brand has a relaxed vibe. For instance, if you sell children’s products or want to give a design a light feel, choose these fonts.

5. Display/Decorative

Use display typefaces to draw attention to a design element or text that is important to your business. Similar to this, you should use a decorative font if you need to do any decorative work. However, be careful not to go too far or you can have trouble understanding a paragraph.

How do you combine different font types?

Today’s designers and producers of visual identities have access to a wide variety of fonts and methods for combining them for optimum impact. There are currently a number of typefaces on your computer, and there are a ton more to be found online.

Sometimes designers will want to combine an italic serif font with a sans serif font in all caps. They think about adding a dash of heavy and dark weight sans to contrast the light italic typefaces. This helps give the design a fresh appearance.


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