What’s the difference between a Sans Serif and a Serif font? | Tutorial Freak – Online Tutorials

What’s the difference between a Sans Serif and a Serif font?

Fonts? TutFREAK

Have you ever heard the terms ‘Sans Serif’ and ‘Serif’?

These are two incredibly important terms when it comes to fonts and

Knowing which one to choose can often make all the difference between
a great looking a header graphic and a poor looking one.

But it goes even further …

When you’re writing headlines, sub headings and body copy on a web
page it also pays to know your Sans from your Serifs.

Let me explain in laymen’s terms.

Serif fonts are the ones with the little curly bits that appear on
each letter.

For example on the letter ‘I’ you’ll either have curly sticky out bits
on the top and bottom or you won’t. If you do, then it is a serif
font. If you don’t then it is a sans serif font.

The term ‘Sans-Serif’ comes from the French word ‘Sans’ which means
without. Literally, it means ‘without the curly bits’.

Now, that is in layman’s terms. I’m sure a professional typographer
would whack me over the head if he heard me talking about curly bits,
but hopefully this description has helped you to understand the

Now, how does this help you when designing header graphics and web
pages in general.

Well, the general consensus is that sans-serif fonts such as Verdana,
Arial, Helvetica, and Tahoma, are the most appropriate to use in the
body of a web page.

The reason for this is interlaced monitors may show what is known as
‘twittering’ on the fine details of the serif fonts.

In plain English, computer displays can struggle with the small curly
bits on serif fonts, whereas Sans-Serif fonts display much clearer as
there are no curly bits to struggle with.

When it comes to headlines, opinion varies considerably. As headline
text is much larger, computer monitors don’t struggle to display the
curly bits. However, a lot of modern website designers prefer the
cleaner look of sans serif fonts.

The truth is that for headlines it very much depends on the theme of
your site, the overall design style you have chosen, and even the
colour scheme you are using. The best advice is to try both types and
see which one you like best.

If you’d like to learn more about fonts I’ve dug out a few useful
resources for you:




Here’s an edited version from Wikipedia:

In typography, a sans-serif or sans serif typeface is one that does
not have the small features called “serifs” at the end of strokes. The
term comes from the Latin word “sine”, via the French word sans,
meaning “without”.

In print, sans-serif fonts are more typically used for headlines than
for body text. The conventional wisdom holds that serifs help guide
the eye along the lines in large blocks of text. Sans-serifs, however,
have acquired considerable acceptance for body text in Europe.

Sans-serif fonts have become the de facto standard for body text on-
screen, especially online. This is partly because interlaced displays
may show twittering on the fine details of the horizontal serifs.
Additionally, the low resolution of digital displays in general can
make fine details like serifs disappear or appear too large.

I hope I’ve helped you to understand why certain fonts are used more
frequently than others in web design, and maybe it has also helped you
to make the decision on what fonts you’re going to use yourself!


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3 Comments on “What’s the difference between a Sans Serif and a Serif font?

  1. SheldonC on said:

    Cool info, never new this till I read this, I will refer to this when designing my own website if I ever get around to it.

  2. We are full of useful little snippets of info, get designing your site because you will get great satisfaction when it starts coming together, if you have any questions or problems drop me an email.. :D

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