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“Serif” or “Sans-serif”

Written by Matt Peterson.

Out of all the fonts that we have to choose from on a regular basis, did you know that most of them can be broken down into two general categories. Those categories are “Serif” and “Sans-serif”, and the difference between the two is very simple: One has decorative “feet” while the other doesn't.

Which one is which? Well, “sans” is a French word that means without, so “sans-seif” means without the curls or small appendixes (feet) that we find at the end of each letter. The image below will show this for you:

Notice the “feet” on the serif font? It is generally believed that Serif fonts make it easier for a reader’s eye to follow the text, particularly when the font needs to be small like in a magazine, newspaper, or book. It is said to draw the eye across the page much easier. So when are Sans-serif fonts used? Most websites use a sans-serif font because it’s generally easier to read these fonts on a screen.

Sans-serif examples: Arial, Verdana, Tahoma
Serif examples: Times New Roman, Garamound, Century Schoolbook

The next time that you need to select a font, you may want to consider what it will be used for. But I would also recommend keeping a consistent brand. So if your website font is Arial, stick with that for your newsletter.