Serif vs Sans-Serif

Serif vs Sans-Serif


text by Aggeliki Michalopoulou-Karra

Adrian Frutiger was a Swiss font designer that influenced the design of fonts for more than half a century. He passed away in September 2015. During his long career, which already had began in the 1950s, he worked initially for letterpress printing and phototypesetting machines, while later he easily passed in the era of digital typesetting. Some of the most famous and recognisable font families he created are Univers, Frutiger and Avenir. These three families constitute a milestone for the sans-serif type of fonts, which extend to all the three main categories of these font types, Neogrotesque, Humanist and Geometric. Frutiger characterised his involvement with sans-serif as “the main work of his life”, perhaps due to the difficulty in design compared to the serif fonts.

Adrian Frutiger in Interlaken, 2004 (photo by www.fontshop.com)

Adrian Frutiger in Interlaken, 2004 (photo by www.fontshop.com)

The most distinctive difference between the two kinds of fonts, serif and sans-serif, is that the former have serifs, while the later do not. This difference is responsible for another of the many controversies among the designers of visual communication, especially during the early years of their career. The Mac vs PC might seem like the mother of all debates, or even the Illustrator vs Corel, which is raging for more than a decade, but the serif vs sans-serif argument is present almost from the beginning of typography, while the scientific studies that have dealt with this are numerous. Like in many other such cases, besides truths, this is also surrounded by many myths.

The Serifs family include some of the oldest fonts of modern typography, used in every possible way, from books, newspapers and magazines to billboards and websites. Often characterised as classic, formal and elegant, they create a sense of stability and continuity. Some of the best-known serif fonts are Times New Roman, Georgia, Rockwell and Baskerville. In contrast, sans-serif fonts are considered more modern, direct, friendly and accurate, encompassing a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular sans-serif fonts are Helvetica, Arial, Univers, Futura and Avenir. […]

 

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artwork by Aggeliki MK

artwork by Aggeliki MK

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