It may not be apparent at first glance, but early typefaces were actually influenced by handwritten type. Over time as different forms of printing became available different types of typefaces began to be created in abundance. In this article, we will cover the different types of typefaces. Being able to identify the characteristics of typefaces can help to pick the best font for any project.
Fonts that fit in the serif classification are typically the oldest typefaces. This is because the word “serif” refers to small lines connected to the endpoints of letters. Serifs are thought to have originated in Rome due to a process known as inscriptional lettering. This process involved first painting letters onto stone which produced flares at the end of strokes, or serifs. There are several sub-classifications of serif typefaces, these are old-style, traditional, Didone & slab serif.
Since serif fonts were the first typeface used and we associated them with history, they give the perception of being traditional. Serif typefaces are also regularly used to imply high-class or luxury.
As printing machines became more sophisticated so did the typefaces that were available. San serif typefaces are typefaces that DO NOT have a serif at the end of strokes. These typefaces were hardly seen before the twentieth century. They were only used for display purposes and not for body text because they were considered harder to read than serif fonts. Current days with the high resolution of computer screens both serif and san serif typefaces can be used for body text.
precision | modern | simplicity | minimalism | contemporary
Script typefaces are based around the stroke of a handwritten font. They flow fluidly between letters to give a clean organic appearance. Cursive is considered to be a casual script, but it’s almost never used for body copy in the digital world. Script typefaces can typically be found as display fonts for titles or logotype.
handmade | traditional | fancy | extravagant
Display typefaces are any font that doesn’t fall into an already described classification. This is because these typefaces are typically created for show and are ment to be more of an illustration than for readability.
Display fonts have vast differences and must be reviewed per typeface.
Dingbats are typefaces that do not contain letters. Instead they contain a set of images/illustrations usually with a specific theme. Dingbats have been around for a long time but have recently become very popular with consumer culture due to the typeface known as emoji. In recent years as the emoji typeface gained traction it has been expanded upon to include the vast library most people are familiar with today.
Dingbat fonts have vast differences and must be reviewed per typeface.