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What are Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

What are Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

When you start writing a content, you cannot just keep on writing without giving a thought to the typography. And when you start thinking about typography, the first thing which comes to your mind is ‘serif and sans serif fonts’.

A good content writer knows that he needs to choose a typography which suits the purpose of content and requirement of the readers. For example, you would not choose a creepy looking typeface for children’s story book. I know you’re not that evil…

You need to have a good understanding of typography even when you are designing an app or website. So, let’s see what is the difference between serif and sans serif fonts and when to use what.

Serif Fonts

The term ‘Serif’ means a slight projection or stroke. Serif Fonts can be recognized by a stroke at the beginning or end of it’s characters. The character of a serif font does not have crisp edges but rather flows with the strokes.

Notice the strokes at the edges of the characters

Look at the characters in the above image. Can you see how there are extra projections at the ends of characters. Even if we remove these projections, we can still define the characters. Then why do we even need them? It is a style of fonts and is said to improve the readability. It gives a flow to the text and is specially good for text written in small font size.

Most popular Serif Fonts

The most popular ones are as following-

  • Times New Roman
  • Georgia
  • Courier New
  • Garamond
  • Baskerville

When to use

Serif fonts look traditional and professional. They give a feeling of trust. Thus, they could be used by very serious brands or businesses which are providing some formal services like insurance, law, book publishing, newspapers etc. It can also be used for government documents.

Sans Serif Fonts

The term ‘Sans‘ comes from French origin and it means ‘without’. So, it tells that ‘Sans serif’ must mean ‘without serifs’ i.e., strokes. Hence, Sans serif font can be defined as a font which lack projections or strokes at the ends of its characters and has clean ends.

Look at these examples of Sans Serif fonts

These are a few examples written in the sans serif typeface. Look how the ends of all the typefaces are clean and crisp. No character here have any projection or stroke.

Most popular Sans Serif Fonts

The most popular ones are-

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Verdana
  • Helvetica
  • Futura

When to use

Sans serifs look clean and modern. They give a feeling of friendliness. Thus, they could be used by brands or businesses which want to look less formal and more user friendly.

Combining Serif and Sans Serif Fonts

If we need to choose two fonts, we should choose one of each type. Choosing both the fonts of same style can make the content look very flat and boring. Different fonts will also help to differentiate things within the content. But make sure, that you are only combining the fonts which give similar feel. It shouldn’t look like one font belongs to the east while other to the west.


There isn’t any hard and fast rule for what exact font to use in which situation. Sometimes, you don’t even have a choice but to use a certain font if it is defined by your company or client. But having a good idea about the fonts can be of some real help when you have to make a choice.

I hope, I was able to explain about serif and sans serif fonts. If you liked this article, please leave your feedback in the comment section below. You can also follow us on social media for daily informative posts. Thank You!

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