Sans vs Serif

1.8.15 by , ,

As we all know, it’s common knowledge that Serif fonts are more legible than Sans Serif fonts. But before we go any further, what is the difference between the two and who cares? Well, most people don’t care, and I call those people the general public. But for those of us that do, here’s the difference: Serif fonts have little dohickeys called serifs and Sans Serif fonts don’t.

It’s really that simple.

Historically, Serif fonts (typefaces) have been credited with increasing both the readability and reading speed of long passages of text. It has been stated repeatedly that they help the eye travel across a line, especially if lines are long. It has something to do with a Gestalt principle called “Continuation.” (see future posts).

And Sans Serif fonts (typefaces) have always been the choice for headlines or subheads or anytime a designer wants to add emphasis.

This may be true of “print” but not necessarily on the “web.”

In fact, on the web, these traditional typographical rules have been reversed! They’re now saying (who ever “they” are) that Sans Serif fonts are more legible on the big (or small) screen than Serif fonts. It has something to do with the simplicity of Sans Serif’s inherent design (remember no dohickeys) and they render clearer on a digital platform. It has something to do with screen resolution.

And let’s face it, who reads the printed word anymore anyway? And why should we? Not when we have computers, tablets, cell phones, book readers and Dick Tracy watches? I know this upsetting news will certainly have Gutenberg rolling over in his grave, but the printed word is dead, or at least terminally ill. And those of us who still love the printed word will just have to sit back and shut it.

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