Serif vs sans serif typefaces

serif vs sans-serif


A small line, structural detail or flourish at the extremities of a type character.


A type character without the above.

Traditionally, serifs were used because scribes could not create a blunt line with their quills. Sans-serif typefaces came into popularity in the 1920s and were nicknamed “grotesque” because many people disliked the way they looked or the break from the traditional serif. They were mostly used in advertising for bold headlines and display type. Serif typefaces are still mostly preferred for body text because they help lead the eye and keep the baseline stable in a paragraph.

When it comes to choosing an appropriate typeface, serif or sans-serif, it’s important to keep in mind that with each comes a personality. Do you want to come across as approachable? Are you trying to be playful? Do you want to be serious? Your font choices support these decisions.

Typically, among their many personality traits, serif typefaces tend to feel more traditional, luxurious or delicate. The sans-serif counterpart portrays more contemporary, neutral, or technical. Exceptions to these traits certainly exist, as both categories have examples that are unconventional to their grouping. At Opus Design, we often combine serif and sanserif styles for an interesting, balanced effect.

Much thought goes into choosing the right typeface for a logo or brand. It starts with research on how you want to convey your message and whether serif or sans-serif fonts would be more effective.

A serif is a typeface with a structural detail stemming out of a type character while a sans-serif typeface is one without structural detail and with blunt ends.