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( {{About|the font characteristic|the software company|Serif Europe|other uses|Serif (disambiguation)}}{| style="float: right; margin: 0 1em 1em; border: solid 1px black;"|
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- Serif and sans-serif 01.svg)| Sans-serif font| Serif and sans-serif 02.svg| Serif font
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In typography, a serif ({{IPAc-en|ˈ|s|ɛr|ᵻ|f}}) is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or "font family" making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as "grotesque" (in German, "grotesk") or "Gothic",WEB, Phinney, Thomas, Sans Serif: Gothic and Grotesque,weblink Typography, Showker, Inc., TA. Showker Graphic Arts & Design, 1 February 2013, and serif typefaces as "roman".

Origins and etymology

Schriftzug Capitalis Rustica.svg|thumb|Roman brushed capitals: Capitalis rusticaCapitalis rusticaSerifs originated in the Latin alphabet with inscriptional lettering—words carved into stone in Roman antiquity. The explanation proposed by Father Edward Catich in his 1968 book The Origin of the Serif is now broadly but not universally accepted: the Roman letter outlines were first painted onto stone, and the stone carvers followed the brush marks, which flared at stroke ends and corners, creating serifs. Another theory is that serifs were devised to neaten the ends of lines as they were chiseled into stone.BOOK, Samara, Timothy, Typography workbook: a real-world guide to using type in graphic design, 2004, Rockport Publishers, 978-1-59253-081-6, 240,weblink BOOK, Goldberg, Rob, Digital Typography: Practical Advice for Getting the Type You Want When You Want It, 2000, Windsor Professional Information, 978-1-893190-05-4, 264,weblink BOOK, The Linotype Bulletin, January–February 1921, 265,weblink 26 October 2011, The origin of the word serif is obscure, but apparently is almost as recent as the type style. The book The British Standard of the Capital Letters contained in the Roman Alphabet, forming a complete code of systematic rules for a mathematical construction and accurate formation of the same (1813) by William Hollins, defined surripses, usually pronounced "surriphs", as "projections which appear at the tops and bottoms of some letters, the O and Q excepted, at the beginning or end, and sometimes at each, of all". The standard also proposed that surripsis may be a Greek word derived from συν (together) and ριψις (projection).In 1827, a Greek scholar Julian Hibbert printed with his own experimental uncial Greek types, remarking that the types of Giambattista Bodoni's Callimachus were "ornamented (or rather disfigured) by additions of what [he] believe[s] type-founders call syrifs or cerefs". The printer Thomas Curson Hansard referred to them as "ceriphs" in 1825.BOOK, Hansard, Thomas Curson, Typographia, an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing, 1825, 370,weblink 12 August 2015, The oldest citations in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are 1830 for serif and 1841 for sans serif. The OED speculates that serif was a back-formation from sanserif. Webster's Third New International Dictionary traces serif to the Dutch noun schreef, meaning "line, stroke of the pen", related to the verb schrappen, "to delete, strike through". Schreef now also means "serif" in Dutch. (The relation between "schreef" and "schrappen" is documented by Van Veen and Van der Sijs in Etymologisch Woordenboek (Van Dale, 1997). Yet, "schreef" literally is past-tense of "schrijven" (to write). In her Chronologisch Woordenboek (Veen, 2001), Van der Sijs lists words by first known publication in the language area that is The Netherlands today. Van der Sijs: schrijven, 1100; schreef, 1350; schrappen, 1406. I.e. "schreef" is from "schrijven" (to write), not from "schrappen" (to scratch, eliminate by strike-through).)The OED{{'}}s earliest citation for "grotesque" in this sense is 1875, giving stone-letter as a synonym. It would seem to mean "out of the ordinary" in this usage, as in art grotesque usually means "elaborately decorated". Other synonyms include "Doric" and "Gothic", commonly used for Japanese Gothic typefaces.WEB, Berry, John, A Neo-Grotesque Heritage,weblink Adobe Systems, 15 October 2015,


Serif fonts can be broadly classified into one of four subgroups: old style, transitional, Didone and slab serif, in order of first appearance.


Garamond sample.svg|thumb|right|Adobe Garamond, an example of an old-style serif.{{efn|Note that this image includes 'Th' ligatures, common in Adobe typefaces but not found in the sixteenth century.}}]]Old-style typefaces date back to 1465, shortly after Johannes Gutenberg's adoption of the movable type printing press. Early printers in Italy created types that broke with Gutenberg's blackletter printing, creating upright and later italic styles inspired by Renaissance calligraphy.WEB, Olocco, Riccardo, The Venetian origins of roman type,weblink Medium, C-A-S-T, 27 January 2018, Old-style serif fonts have remained popular for setting body text because of their organic appearance and excellent readability on rough book paper. The increasing interest in early printing during the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a return to the designs of Renaissance printers and typefounders, many of whose names and designs are still used today.JOURNAL, Mosley, James, Garamond, Griffo and Others: The Price of Celebrity, Bibiologia, 2006,weblink 3 December 2015, WEB, Coles, Stephen, Top Ten Typefaces Used by Book Design Winners,weblink" title="">weblink FontFeed (archived), 2 July 2015, JOURNAL, Johnson, A.F., Alfred F. Johnson, Old-Face Types in the Victorian Age, Monotype Recorder, 1931, 30, 242, 5–15,weblink 14 October 2016, Old style type is characterized by a lack of large differences between thick and thin lines (low line contrast) and generally but less often by a diagonal stress (the thinnest parts of letters are at an angle rather than at the top and bottom). An old-style font normally has a left-inclining curve axis with weight stress at about 8 and 2 o'clock; serifs are almost always bracketed (they have curves connecting the serif to the stroke); head serifs are often angled.WEB,weblink Old Style Serif, {{inconsistent citations}}, Old-style faces evolved over time, showing increasing abstraction from what would now be considered handwriting and blackletter characteristics, and often increased delicacy or contrast as printing technique improved.WEB, Boardley, John, Unusual fifteenth-century fonts: part 1,weblink i love typography, 22 September 2017, WEB, Boardley, John, Unusual fifteenth-century fonts: part 2,weblink i love typography, 22 September 2017, Old-style faces have often sub-divided into Venetian (or humanist) and Garalde (or Aldine), a division made on the Vox-ATypI classification system.WEB, Type anatomy: Family Classifications of Type,weblink SFCC Graphic Design department, Spokane Falls Community College, 14 August 2015, Nonetheless, some have argued that the difference is excessively abstract, hard to spot except to specialists and implies a clearer separation between styles than originally appeared.{{Citation |last=Dixon |first=Catherine |title=Typeface classification |publisher=Friends of St Bride |contribution=Twentieth Century Graphic Communication: Technology, Society and Culture |year=2002 |url=}}{{efn|Specifically, Manutius's type, the first type now classified as "Garalde", was not so different from other typefaces around at the time. However, the waves of "Garalde" faces coming out of France from the 1530s onwards did tend to cleanly displace earlier typefaces, and became an international standard.JOURNAL, Amert, Kay, Stanley Morison's Aldine Hypothesis Revisited, Design Issues, April 2008, 24, 2, 53–71, 10.1162/desi.2008.24.2.53, BOOK, The Aldine Press: catalogue of the Ahmanson-Murphy collection of books by or relating to the press in the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles : incorporating works recorded elsewhere., 2001, Univ. of California Press, Berkeley [u.a.], 978-0-520-22993-8, 22–25,weblink [On the Aldine Press in Venice changing over to types from France]: the press followed precedent; popular in France, [these] types rapidly spread over western Europe., }} Modern typefaces such as Arno and Trinité may fuse both styles.BOOK, Twardoch, Slimbach, Sousa, Slye, Arno Pro, 2007, Adobe Systems, San Jose,weblink 14 August 2015, Early 'humanist' roman types were introduced in Italy. Modelled on the script of the period, they tend to feature an "e" in which the cross stroke is angled, not horizontal, 'M's with two-way serifs, and often a relatively dark colour on the page. In modern times, that of Nicolas Jenson has been the most admired, with many revivals.WEB, Olocco, Riccardo, Nicolas Jenson and the success of his roman type,weblink Medium, C-A-S-T, 21 September 2017, WEB, Boardley, John, The first roman fonts,weblink ilovetypography, 21 September 2017, Garaldes, which tend to feature a level cross-stroke on the 'e', descend from an influential 1495 font cut by engraver Francesco Griffo for printer Aldus Manutius, which became the inspiration for many typefaces cut in France from the 1530s onwards.BOOK, Carter, Harry, A View of Early Typography up to about 1600, 1969, Hyphen Press, London, 0-907259-21-9, 72–4, Second edition (2002), De Aetna was decisive in shaping the printers' alphabet. The small letters are very well made to conform with the genuinely antique capitals by emphasis on long straight strokes and fine serifs and to harmonise in curvature with them. The strokes are thinner than those of Jenson and his school...the letters look narrower than Jenson's, but are in fact a little wider because the short ones are bigger, and the effect of narrowness makes the face suitable for octavo pages...this Roman of Aldus is distinguishable from other faces of the time by the level cross-stroke in 'e' and the absence of top serifs from the insides of the vertical strokes of 'M', following the model of Feliciano. We have come to regard his small 'e' as an improvement on previous practice., Often lighter on the page and made in larger sizes than had been used for roman type before, French Garalde faces rapidly spread throughout Europe from the 1530s to become an international standard.BOOK, Vervliet, Hendrik D.L., The palaeotypography of the French Renaissance. Selected papers on sixteenth-century typefaces. 2 vols., 2008, Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 90–91, etc, [On Robert Estienne's typefaces of the 1530s]: Its outstanding design became standard for Roman type in the two centuries to follow...From the 1540s onwards French Romans and Italics had begun to infiltrate, probably by way of Lyons, the typography of the neighbouring countries. In Italy, major printers replaced the older, noble but worn Italian characters and their imitations from Basle., 978-90-04-16982-1, WEB, Bergsland, David, Aldine: the intellectuals begin their assault on font design,weblink The Skilled Workman, 14 August 2015, Also during this period, italic type evolved from a quite separate genre of type, intended for informal uses such as poetry, into taking a secondary role for emphasis. Italics moved from being conceived to separate designs and proportions to being able to be fitted into the same line as roman type with a design complementary to it.WEB, Boardley, John, Brief notes on the first italic,weblink i love typography, 21 September 2017, BOOK, Hendrik D. L., Vervliet, The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance: Selected Papers on Sixteenth-century Typefaces,weblink 2008, BRILL, 90-04-16982-2, 287–289, JOURNAL, Lane, John, The Types of Nicholas Kis, Journal of the Printing Historical Society, 1983, 47–75, Miklós Tótfalusi Kis, Kis's Amsterdam specimen of c. 1688 is an important example of the increasing tendency to regard a range of roman and italic types as a coherent family, and this may well have been a conscious innovation. But italics were romanised to a greater degree in many earlier handwritten examples and occasional earlier types, and Jean Jannon displayed a full range of matching roman and italic of his own cutting in his 1621 specimen...[In appendix] [György] Haiman notes that this trend is foreshadowed in the specimens of Guyot in the mid-sixteenth century and Berner in 1592., {{efn|Early italics were intended to exist on their own on the page, and so often had very long ascenders and descenders, especially the "chancery italics" of printers such as Arrighi.BOOK, Hendrik D. L. Vervliet, The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance: Selected Papers on Sixteenth-century Typefaces,weblink 2008, BRILL, 90-04-16982-2, 287–319, Jan van Krimpen's Cancelleresca Bastarda typeface, intended to complement his serif family Romulus, was nonetheless cast on a larger body to allow it to have an appropriately expansive feel.}}A new genre of serif type developed around the 17th century in the Netherlands and Germany that came to be called the "Dutch taste" ("goût Hollandois" in French). It was a tendency towards denser, more solid typefaces, often with a high x-height (tall lower-case letters) and a sharp contrast between thick and thin strokes, perhaps influenced by blackletter faces.BOOK, Updike, Daniel Berkeley, Printing Types: Their History, Forms and Uses: Volume 2, 1922, Harvard University Press, 6–7,weblink 18 December 2015, Chapter 15: Types of the Netherlands, 1500-1800, WEB,weblink "Typofonderie Gazette", Type History 1, 23 December 2015, JOURNAL, Johnson, A. F., Alfred F. Johnson, The 'Goût Hollandois', The Library, 1939, s4-XX, 2, 180–196, 10.1093/library/s4-XX.2.180, WEB, Mosley, James, Type and its Uses, 1455-1830,weblink Institute of English Studies, 7 October 2016, Although types on the ‘Aldine’ model were widely used in the 17th and 18th centuries, a new variant that was often slightly more condensed in its proportions, and darker and larger on its body, became sufficiently widespread, at least in Northern Europe, to be worth defining as a distinct style and examining separately. Adopting a term used by Fournier le jeune, the style is sometimes called the ‘Dutch taste’, and sometimes, especially in Germany,‘baroque’. Some names associated with the style are those of Van den Keere, Granjon, Briot, Van Dijck, Kis (maker of the so-called ‘Janson’ types), and William Caslon, Caslon., dead,weblink" title="">weblink 9 October 2016, WEB, de Jong, Feike, Lane, John A., The Briot project. Part I,weblink PampaType, TYPO, republished by PampaType, 10 June 2018, Examples of contemporary Garalde old-style typefaces are Bembo, Garamond, Galliard, Granjon, Goudy Old Style, Minion, Palatino, Renard, Sabon, and Scala. Contemporary typefaces with Venetian old style characteristics include the particularly faithful revival Cloister, Adobe Jenson, the Golden Type, Hightower Text, Centaur, Goudy's Italian Old Style and Berkeley Old Style and ITC Legacy. Several of these blend in Garalde influences to fit modern expectations, especially placing single-sided serifs on the 'M'.WEB, Shen, Juliet, Searching for Morris Fuller Benton,weblink Type Culture, 11 April 2017, Typefaces specifically in the "Dutch taste" style include the work of Nicolaas Briot, Christoffel van Dijck, Van den Keere, Caslon and the Janson and Ehrhardt designs based on the work of Miklós Tótfalusi Kis.


Times New Roman sample.svg|thumb|Times New RomanTimes New RomanTransitional, or baroque, serif typefaces first became common around the mid-18th century until the start of the nineteenth.BOOK, Paul Shaw, Revival Type: Digital Typefaces Inspired by the Past,weblink 18 April 2017, Yale University Press, 978-0-300-21929-6, 85–98, They are in between "old style" and "modern" fonts, thus the name "transitional". Differences between thick and thin lines are more pronounced than they are in old style, but less dramatic than they are in the Didone fonts that followed. Stress is more likely to be vertical, and often the 'R' has a curled tail. The ends of many strokes are marked not by blunt or angled serifs but by ball terminals. Transitional faces often have an italic h that opens outwards at bottom right.JOURNAL, Morison, Stanley, Type Designs of the Past and Present, Part 3, PM, 1937, 17–81,weblink 4 June 2017, Because the genre bridges styles, it is difficult to define where the genre starts and ends. Many of the most popular transitional designs are later creations in the same style.Fonts from the original period of transitional typefaces include early on the "romain du roi" in France, then the work of Pierre Simon Fournier in France, Fleischman and Rosart in the Netherlands, Pradel in Spain and John Baskerville and Bulmer in England.BOOK, Jan Middendorp, Dutch Type,weblink 2004, 010 Publishers, 978-90-6450-460-0, 27–29, JOURNAL, Corbeto, A., Eighteenth Century Spanish Type Design, The Library, 25 September 2009, 10, 3, 272–297, 10.1093/library/10.3.272, JOURNAL, Unger, Gerard, The types of François-Ambroise Didot and Pierre-Louis Vafflard. A further investigation into the origins of the Didones, Quaerendo, 1 January 2001, 31, 3, 165–191, 10.1163/157006901X00047, Among more recent designs, Times New Roman (1932), Perpetua, Plantin, Mrs. Eaves, Freight Text and the earlier "modernised old styles" have been described as transitional in design.{{efn|Monotype executive Stanley Morison, who commissioned Times New Roman, noted that he hoped that it "has the merit of not looking as if it had been designed by somebody in particular".WEB, Alas, Joel, The history of the Times New Roman typeface,weblink Financial Times, 16 January 2016, }}Later 18th-century transitional typefaces in Britain begin to show influences of Didone typefaces from Europe, described below, and the two genres blur, especially in type intended for body text; Bell is an example of this.JOURNAL, Johnson, Alfred F., Alfred F. Johnson, The Evolution of the Modern-Face Roman, The Library, 1930, s4-XI, 3, 353–377, 10.1093/library/s4-XI.3.353, BOOK, Johnston, Alastair, Transitional Faces: The Lives & Work of Richard Austin, type-cutter, and Richard Turner Austin, wood-engraver, 2014, Poltroon Press, Berkeley,weblink 0918395321, 8 February 2017, {{efn|It should be realised that "Transitional" is a somewhat nebulous classification, almost always including Baskerville and other typefaces around this period but also sometimes including nineteenth and twentieth-century reimaginations of old-style faces, such as Bookman and Plantin, and sometimes some of the later "old-style" faces such as the work of Caslon and his imitators. In addition, of course Baskerville and others of this period would not have seen their work as "transitional" but as an end in itself. Eliason (2015) provides a leading modern critique and assessment of the classification, but even in 1930 A.F. Johnson called the term "vague and unsatisfactory."JOURNAL, Eliason, Craig, "Transitional" Typefaces: The History of a Typefounding Classification, Design Issues, October 2015, 31, 4, 30–43, 10.1162/DESI_a_00349, }}


Bodoni sample.svg|thumb|right|BodoniBodoniDidone, or modern, serif typefaces, which first emerged in the late 18th century, are characterized by extreme contrast between thick and thin lines.{{efn|Additional subgenres of Didone type include "fat faces" (ultra-bold designs for posters) and "Scotch Modern" designs (used in the English-speaking world for book and newspaper printing).WEB, Shinn, Nick, Modern Suite,weblink Shinntype, 11 August 2015, }} These typefaces have a vertical stress and thin serifs with a constant width, with minimal bracketing (constant width). Serifs tend to be very thin, and vertical lines very heavy. Didone fonts are often considered to be less readable than transitional or old-style serif typefaces. Period examples include Bodoni, Didot, and Walbaum. Computer Modern is a popular contemporary example. The very popular Century is a softened version of the same basic design, with reduced contrast.WEB, Shaw, Paul, Overlooked Typefaces,weblink Print magazine, 2 July 2015, Didone typefaces achieved dominance of printing in the early nineteenth-century printing before declining in popularity in the second half of the century and especially in the twentieth as new designs and revivals of old-style faces emerged.JOURNAL, Ovink, G.W., Nineteenth-century reactions against the didone type model - I, Quaerendo, 1971, 1, 2, 18–31,weblink 20 February 2016, 10.1163/157006971x00301, JOURNAL, Ovink, G.W., Nineteenth-century reactions against the didone type model - II, Quaerendo, 1971, 1, 4, 282–301,weblink 20 February 2016, 10.1163/157006971x00239, JOURNAL, Ovink, G.W., Nineteenth-century reactions against the didone type model-III, Quaerendo, 1 January 1972, 2, 2, 122–128, 10.1163/157006972X00229, In print, Didone fonts are often used on high-gloss magazine paper for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, where the paper retains the detail of their high contrast well, and for whose image a crisp, "European" design of type may be considered appropriate.BOOK, Frazier, J.L., Type Lore, 1925, Chicago, 14,weblink 24 August 2015, WEB, HFJ Didot introduction,weblink Hoefler & Frere-Jones, 10 August 2015, They are used more often for general-purpose body text, such as book printing, in Europe.WEB, HFJ Didot,weblink Hoefler & Frere-Jones, 10 August 2015, They remain popular in the printing of Greek, as the Didot family were among the first to establish a printing press in newly independent Greece.WEB, Leonidas, Gerry, A primer on Greek type design,weblink Gerry Leonidas/University of Reading, 14 May 2017, WEB, GFS Didot,weblink Greek Font Society, 10 August 2015, The period of Didone types' greatest popularity coincided with the rapid spread of printed posters and commercial ephemera and the arrival of bold type.BOOK, Eskilson, Stephen J., Graphic design : a new history, 2007, Yale University Press, New Haven, 9780300120110, 25, registration,weblink WEB, Pané-Farré, Pierre, Affichen-Schriften,weblink Forgotten-Shapes, 10 June 2018, As a result, many Didone typefaces are among the earliest designed for "display" use, with an ultra-bold "fat face" style becoming a common sub-genre.BOOK, Johnson, Alfred F., Alfred F. Johnson, Selected Essays on Books and Printing, 1970, 409-415, Fat Faces: Their History, Forms and Use, WEB, Phinney, Thomas, Fat faces,weblink Graphic Design and Publishing Centre, 10 August 2015, WEB, Kennard, Jennifer, The Story of Our Friend, the Fat Face,weblink Fonts in Use, 11 August 2015,

Slab serif

thumb|right|Rockwell, an example of a more geometric slab serifthumb|right|Clarendon, an example of a less geometric slab serifSlab serif typefaces date to about 1817.{{efn|Early slab-serif types were given a variety of names for branding purposes, such as Egyptian, Italian, Ionic, Doric, French-Clarendon and Antique, which generally have little or no connection to their actual history. Nonetheless, the names have persisted in use.}}JOURNAL, Miklavčič, Mitja, Three chapters in the development of clarendon/ionic typefaces, MA Thesis (University of Reading), 2006,weblink 14 August 2015, dead,weblink" title="">weblink November 25, 2011, Originally intended as attention-grabbing designs for posters, they have very thick serifs, which tend to be as thick as the vertical lines themselves.Slab serif fonts vary considerably: some such as Rockwell have a geometric design with minimal variation in stroke width: they are sometimes described as sans-serif fonts with added serifs. Others such as those of the "Clarendon" model have a structure more like most other serif fonts, though with larger and more obvious serifs.WEB, Sentinel: historical background,weblink Hoefler & Frere-Jones, 15 July 2015, WEB, Challand, Skylar, Know your type: Clarendon,weblink IDSGN, 13 August 2015, These designs may have bracketed serifs that increase width along their length.Because of the clear, bold nature of the large serifs, slab serif designs are often used for posters and in small print. Many monospace fonts, on which all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal space as in a typewriter, are slab-serif designs. While not always purely slab-serif designs, many fonts intended for newspaper use have large slab-like serifs for clearer reading on poor-quality paper. Many early slab-serif types, being intended for posters, only come in bold styles with the key differentiation being width, and often have no lower-case letters at all.Examples of slab-serif typefaces include Clarendon, Rockwell, Archer, Courier, Excelsior and TheSerif. FF Meta Serif and Guardian Egyptian are examples of newspaper and small print-oriented typefaces with some slab-serif characteristics, often most visible in the bold weights. In the late twentieth century, the term "humanist slab-serif" has been applied to typefaces such as Chaparral, Caecilia and Tisa, with strong serifs but an outline structure with some influence of old-style serif typefaces.WEB, Phinney, Thomas, Most Overlooked: Chaparral,weblink Typekit Blog, Adobe Systems, 7 March 2019, BOOK, Ellen Lupton, Ellen, Lupton, Type on Screen: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Developers, and Students,weblink 12 August 2014, Princeton Architectural Press, 978-1-61689-346-0, 16, BOOK, Bringhurst, Robert, Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style, Hartley & Marks, 9780881791327, 218, 330, 2nd, {{clear}}

Other styles

During the nineteenth century, genres of serif type besides conventional body text faces proliferated.BOOK, Gray, Nicolete, Nineteenth-century Ornamented Typefaces, 1976, BOOK, Lupton, Ellen, Thinking with Type, 9781616890452, 23, These included "Tuscan" faces, with ornamental, decorative ends to the strokes rather than serifs, and "Latin" or "wedge-serif" faces, with pointed serifs, which were particularly popular in France and other parts of Europe including for signage applications such as business cards or shop fronts.BOOK, Frutiger, Adrian, Typefaces – the complete works, 9783038212607, 26–35, Well-known typefaces in the "Latin" style include Wide Latin, Copperplate Gothic, Johnston Delf Smith and the more restrained Méridien.

Readability and legibility

Serifed fonts are widely used for body text because they are considered easier to read than sans-serif fonts in print.Merriam-Webster's Manual for Writers and Editors, (Springfield, 1998) p. 329. However, scientific study on this topic has been inconclusive. Colin Wheildon, who conducted scientific studies from 1982 to 1990, found that sans serif fonts created various difficulties for readers that impaired their comprehension.BOOK, Type and Layout: How Typography and Design Can Get your Message Across – Or Get in the Way, Wheildon, Colin, 1995, Strathmoor Press, Berkeley, 0-9624891-5-8, 57, 59–60, According to Kathleen Tinkel, studies suggest that "most sans serif typefaces may be slightly less legible than most serif faces, but ... the difference can be offset by careful setting".Kathleen Tinkel, "Taking it in: What makes type easy to read", {{webarchive|url= |date=2012-10-19 }} Accessed 28 December 2010. p. 3. Other studies have found no significant difference in readability for serif or sans serif.WEB,weblink A Comparison of Two Computer Fonts: Serif versus Ornate Sans Serif,, 29 March 2014,weblink" title="">weblink 11 April 2008, Serifed fonts are overwhelmingly preferred for lengthy text printed in books, newspapers and magazines.{{Citation needed|date=August 2017}} For such purposes sans-serif fonts are more acceptable in Europe than in North America, but still less common than serifed typefaces.{{Citation needed|date=July 2009}}Sans-serif are considered to be legible on computer screens. According to Alex Poole,Literature Review Which Are More Legible: Serif or Sans Serif Typefaces? {{webarchive|url= |date=2010-03-06 }}. "we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible". A study suggested that serif fonts are more legible on a screen but are not generally preferred to sans serif fonts.Effects of Font Type on the Legibility The Effects of Font Type and Size on the Legibility and Reading Time of Online Text by Older Adults. Another study indicated that comprehension times for individual words are slightly faster when written in a sans serif font versus a serif font.Moret-Tatay, C., & Perea, M. (in press). Do serifs provide an advantage in the recognition of written words? Journal of Cognitive Psychology. size of an individual glyph is 9-20 pixels, proportional serifs and some lines of most glyphs of common vector fonts are smaller than individual pixels. Hinting, spatial anti-aliasing, and subpixel rendering allow to render distinguishable serifs even in this case, but their proportions and appearance are off and thickness is close to many lines of the main glyph, strongly altering appearance of the glyph. Consequently, it is sometimes advised to use sans-serif fonts for content meant to be displayed on screens, as they scale better for low resolutions. Indeed, most web pages employ sans-serif type.The Principles of Beautiful Web Design, (2007) p. 113. Recent introduction of desktop displays with 300+ dpi resolution might eventually make this recommendation obsolete.As serifs originated in inscription, they are generally not used in handwriting. A common exception is the printed capital I, where the addition of serifs distinguishes the character from lowercase L. The printed capital J and the numeral 1 are also often handwritten with serifs.


Below are some images of serif letterforms across history.Jenson006.jpg|The printing of Nicolas Jenson.De Aetna 1495.jpg|De Aetna, printed by Aldus Manutius. Houghton TypTS 515.52.370 - Alphabetum Graecum.jpg|A title page printed by Robert Estienne.Petite Texte from Épreuves générales des caracteres.png|A small-size font engraved by Claude Garamond.Romain du roi sample (1702).png|The Romain du roi, the first "transitional" typeface.Ehrhardt specimen.png|Condensed, high x-height types in the "Dutch taste" style, c. 1720.Publii Virgilii Maronis Bucolica, Georgica, et Æneis by John Baskerville 1757.jpg|Title page by John Baskerville, 1757.Type sample, Pierre Simon Fournier, Manuel Typographique 1766.png|Alphabet engraved by Pierre-Simon Fournier in his Manuel typographique, 1760s.Fleischman Paragon roman & italic.jpg|Transitional type cut by Joan Michaël Fleischman of Amsterdam, 1768.Mrs Bulkley (8).jpg|1779 theatre poster, London.Code civil des Français (Firmin-Didot).jpg|Didone type in a book printed by the company of Firmin Didot, 1804Manuale-Tipografico1.jpg|Bodoni's postumously-published Manuale Tipografico, 1818.Caslon inline Great Primer Columbia specimen.jpg|Inline modern face.Ultra-bold Didone, Kinsley 1829.jpg|"Fat face" ultra-bold Didone type.Fann Street Foundry Clarendon image with text for emphasis.jpg|A showing of the original Clarendon typeface.Boston Type Foundry Clarendon.jpg|Display-size slab-serif fonts.Miller & Richard Old Style Type Specimen (15399996818).jpg|Miller and Richard's Modernised Old Style, a reimagination of pre-Didone typefaces.Kelmscott Press Typefaces.jpg|William Morris's Golden Type and other typefaces cut for his Kelmscott Press in the style of early printing.ATF 1923 Garamond specimen page 22.jpg|ATF's "Garamond" type, an example of the revival of interest in old-style faces that accelerated from the end of the nineteenth century.Sir Harry Johnston memorial plaque.JPG|Memorial plaque by Eric Gill, c. 1920s.

East Asian analogues

thumb|From left to right: a serif typeface with serifs in red, a serif typeface, and a sans-serif typeface.In the Chinese and Japanese writing systems, there are common type styles based on the regular script for Chinese characters akin to serif and sans serif fonts in the West. In Mainland China, the most popular category of serifed-like typefaces for body text is called Song (宋体, Songti); in Japan, the most popular serif style is called Minchō (); and in Taiwan and Hong Kong, it is called Ming (明體, Mingti). The names of these lettering styles come from the Song and Ming dynasties, when block printing flourished in China. Because the wood grain on printing blocks ran horizontally, it was fairly easy to carve horizontal lines with the grain. However, carving vertical or slanted patterns was difficult because those patterns intersect with the grain and break easily. This resulted in a typeface that has thin horizontal strokes and thick vertical strokes{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}. In accordance with Chinese calligraphy (kaiti style in particular), where each horizontal stroke is ended with a dipping motion of the brush, the ending of horizontal strokes are also thickened{{Citation needed|date=May 2010}}. These design forces resulted in the current Song typeface characterized by thick vertical strokes contrasted with thin horizontal strokes, triangular ornaments at the end of single horizontal strokes, and overall geometrical regularity.In Japanese typography, the equivalent of serifs on kanji and kana characters are called uroko—"fish scales". In Chinese, the serifs are called either youjiaoti (有脚体, lit. "forms with legs") or youchenxianti (有衬线体, lit. "forms with ornamental lines").The other common East Asian style of type is called black (黑体/體, Heiti) in Chinese and {{nihongo|Gothic|ゴシック体|Goshikku-tai}} in Japanese. This group is characterized by lines of even thickness for each stroke, the equivalent of "sans serif". This style, first introduced on newspaper headlines, is commonly used on headings, websites, signs and billboards.

See also

Lists of serif typefaces:
  • (:Category:Old style serif typefaces|Old-style)
  • (:Category:Transitional serif typefaces|Transitional)
  • (:Category:Modern serif typefaces|Didone)






  • Robert Bringhurst, The Elements of Typographic Style (version 3.0), 2004, Hartley & Marks, Publishers, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Harry Carter, A View of Early Typography up to about 1600
  • Father Edward Catich, The Origin of the Serif: Brush writing and Roman letters, 1991, Hartley & Marks, Publishers, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Nicolete Gray, Nineteenth Century Ornamented Typefaces
  • Alfred F. Johnson, Type Designs, their History and Development
  • Stan Knight, Historical types from Gutenberg to Ashendene
  • Ellen Lupton, Thinking with Type: A Critical Guide for Designers, Writers, Editors, & Students, 2004, Princeton Architectural Press, New York
  • Indra Kupferschmid, Some Type Genres Explained
  • Stanley Morison, A Tally of Types (on revivals of historic typefaces created by the British company Monotype)
  • Stanley Morison, Type Designs of the Past and Present: part 3 and part 4 available online
  • Paul Shaw, Revival Type: Digital typefaces inspired by the past (2017)
  • Walter Tracy, Letters of Credit
  • Daniel Berkeley Updike, Printing Types, their History, Forms and Use (volume 1 and volume 2) - now outdated and known for a strong and not always accurate dislike of Dutch printing, but extremely comprehensive in scope
  • Hendrik Vervliet, The Palaeotypography of the French Renaissance (in 2 volumes), Sixteenth Century Printing Types of the Low Countries, French Renaissance Printing Types: a Conspectus, The Book through Five Thousand Years
  • See also: weblink" title="">Professor James Mosley's reading list and commentary on available books on metal type
{{Typography terms}}

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