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Choosing the Right Font: Should You Care About The Difference Between Serif And Sans Serif?

If you ever heard of the type of fonts you can use, you may have heard of Serif and Sans Serif. Well, even some fonts have these words on their name. Like Source Sans and Source Serif.

Have you ever wondered what is actually the difference between those two types of fonts? Or, maybe you wondered, does it really matter?

Let’s dive in.

Types of Fonts

When it comes to fonts, there are two main types: serif and sans serif. Serif fonts have small embellishments on the ends of the letters, while sans serif fonts do not. Both types of fonts can be used for body copy or headlines. So, which one should you use?

The answer depends on your preference and the type of project you’re working on. If you’re designing something that will be read on screens, such as a website or app, then sans serif fonts are generally a better choice. They’re easier to read on screens because the embellishments on serif fonts can be difficult to see in small sizes.

If you’re working on a print project, such as a book or magazine, then serif fonts are usually a better choice. They tend to be more formal and traditional, and they add a bit of personality to your design.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Ultimately, the best way to choose a font is to experiment with both types and see which one you prefer.

There are also other types of fonts that you can use. You may have heard of display-type fonts. display fonts are a whole other category of looking at fonts, they are usually not used for body text.

Display fonts comprise many different kinds of fonts, that can further be subcategorized if we like. But they all have one thing in common: display fonts are fonts that are suited for use in large sizes.

For example, you can use display fonts for headings and titles, such as on a poster.

Most display fonts also have varied and non-unified forms, which would make them hard to read when used as body text, or in any part of the design which has a lot of text. Although, you can use display fonts in such a way to create some artistic effects.

Let’s talk about display fonts some other time. We should get back to Serif and Sans Serif.

What is the Difference Between Serif and Sans Serif?

Serif fonts are the ones with the little feet on the end of each letter (think Times New Roman), while sans serif fonts don’t have those feet (like Arial).

The name actually a description of each type, where ‘serif’ actually means that little feet at the end of each letter while “sans” means without, so “sans serif” is without serif.

Serif fonts are generally considered to be more traditional, while sans serif fonts are seen as more modern. However, there are many beautiful and stylish serif fonts and many sans serif fonts that are not particularly modern or stylish.

Serif Font (Brett Jordan via Unsplash)

Pros and Cons of Serif or Sans Serif

Both have their own set of benefits and drawbacks that you should consider before making a decision.

Serif fonts are more traditional and easy to read in print. They are also more formal-looking, which can be like wearing a suit to a party. On the downside, serif fonts can be harder to read on screen, and they can appear busy or cluttered when used in large blocks of text.

Sans serif fonts are more modern-looking and work well on screen. They can be easier to read in small sizes and don’t get lost in long blocks of text like serif fonts can. However, they may not convey the same level of professionalism as a serif font, and they can appear cold or impersonal.

The best way to choose the right font for your site is to experiment with both options and see which one you prefer.

george pagan iii F3qyrBm9xEY unsplash scaledSans Seris Font (George Pagan via Unsplash)

Which Do You Pick?

So which one should you use for your blog? It really depends on the tone and style of your writing.

The main thing to consider when choosing a font is what feeling you want your design to convey.

If you’re going for a more formal or professional tone, then a serif font would be a better choice. But if you want a more relaxed and informal feel to your blog, then a sans serif font would be better.

If you want a classic, sophisticated feeling, go with a serif font. If you want a modern or minimalist feeling, go with a sans serif font.

Choosing a serif font can be very good for professionals, such as law practice, insurance, accounting, or even medical professionals like doctors and chiropractors.

Famous fonts in the serif category are Times New Roman, Georgia, and Garamond.

Meanwhile, choosing a sans serif is good for startups and tech companies or organizations that want to convey a more up-to-date or down-to-earth style.

Famous fonts in the sans serif category are Helvetica, Arial, and Proxima Nova.

A Reminder on Choosing Fonts for Your Design

While we have mostly only talked about serif and sans serif in this article, we must always remember the good practice of utilizing fonts in your design.

First of all, there is such a thing as too many fonts. Having too many different kinds of fonts on your project can be confusing and overwhelming, instead, opt for variations of the same font.

Second of all, consider the contrast between the fonts you used. What is contrast? Simply put, it’s how much each font looks different or the same to each other. The more it looks different, the more contrast between them. Consider this as part of your design.

As before, remember that choosing a font with multiple variations or options can be good. For example, the same font can have Light, Medium, Semi Bold, Bold, or even Extra Bold options. These can be very helpful as you don’t have to switch fonts.

And, finally, remember that you can always break the rules. Maybe some formal company wants to appeal more to the casual crowd, and that means using sans serif instead of serif. Or, perhaps, the other way around, a casual company wants to be sarcastically formal.

Conclusion

Now that you know the difference between serif and sans serif fonts, it’s time to put that knowledge to use. When choosing a font for your next project, take some time to consider which style will best convey your message.

If you’re not sure, try out a few different options and see which one feels right. And remember, there are no hard and fast rules — ultimately, the right font is the one that works best for your particular project.

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