So what is a ‘Serif’ font by the way, you may be thinking. “It’s the little decorative stroke that extends from letters. It can be in the form of a tail, sharp or blunt, decorative or plain. Each serif typeface will have a distinctive style for this mark that makes the family identifiable. Serifs appear on both upper- and lower-case letters within a font family, as well as on glyphs, numerals and other characters.” writes Carrie Cousins on the popular website for Design articles and inspirations ‘designshack.net’. It is said to correlate with ‘elegant and old-fashioned’ type fonts used in the much earlier days, such as the font Old Style (aka Garalde) said to have derived around 1500s-1700s. “In the print world, serif typefaces are almost universally used for setting running body text, however, on the web, sans-serifs dominate. On lower-resolution displays, sans-serifs tend to display better, however, higher-resolution displays can better handle the fine details of serifs..” described on the article titled ‘Top 10 Most Popular Sans-Serif Fonts’ found on https://www.typewolf.com/top-10-sans-serif-fonts
So, that would mean Sans Serif is essentially fonts omitting the ‘Serif’ or the classic decorative stroke that would often extend from the letters. “A category of typefaces that do not use serifs, small lines at the ends of characters. Popular sans serif fonts include Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial, and Geneva. Serif fonts include Times Roman, Courier, New Century Schoolbook, and Palatino.” as written on the article titled ‘sans serif’ by Vangie Beal found at https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/sans_serif.html. While typically and historically the most popular choice for web, due to it’s easy-stable rendering across browsers, devices, resolutions, connections and more; with recent advancements in technology better resolutions such as HD is allowing stable ability to render the original ‘Serif’ properly. ““The old usability guideline for online typography was simple: stick to sans-serif typefaces. Because computer screens were too lousy to render serifs properly, attempting serif type at body-text sizes resulted in blurry letter shapes. …’ quoted Carrie Cousins on that popular website for Design articles and inspirations ‘designshack.net’.
So, in 2018 which font should you use? I would say, as always, like with every web project; it depends on the support for devices, browsers, resolutions, and connections! Or if you have the time and energy you can simply use both; have the Serif for the more modern HD type resolutions and devices; and fall-back on loading Sans Serif for the lower-end devices and resolutions.
- Cousins, C. (2013, October 28). Serif vs. Sans Serif Fonts: Is One Really Better Than the Other? Retrieved April 14, 2018, from https://designshack.net/articles/typography/serif-vs-sans-serif-fonts-is-one-really-better-than-the-other/
- A History of Typeface Styles & Type Classification. (2015, July 28). Retrieved April 14, 2018, from https://blog.spoongraphics.co.uk/articles/a-history-of-typeface-styles-type-classification
- Beal, V. (n.d.). Sans serif. Retrieved April 14, 2018, from https://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/sans_serif.html
- Top 10 Most Popular Sans-Serif Fonts of 2018 · Typewolf. (n.d.). Retrieved April 14, 2018, from https://www.typewolf.com/top-10-sans-serif-fonts