Basic Tips for Using Common Categories of Font

Basic Tips for Using Common Categories of Font

There are many different types of fonts available and with advancements in modern technology, new fonts are popping up more and more. Font usage is pretty important whether you’re a designer or someone trying to figure out what font to use for your resume. The goal when using fonts is making sure it’s suitable for the purpose for which it’s being used. Learning about the different categories is pretty cool and once you have everything somewhat down, you’ll be able to take your projects to the next level. So, let’s get started!

There are a few terms I’d like to call out before getting into the different categories of font because I feel that it’ll help with identifying them.

Serifs

Serifs can best be described as the extensions you’d usually see off the tips of letters.

Thick/thin Transition

Thick/thin transitions relate to the sizing of the curved strokes from the writing tool used.

Stress

You can identify the stress by drawing a line directly through the thinnest parts of the curved strokes.

Got it? Get it? Great! Now let’s get into the good stuff…

Oldstyle

Oldstyle is a typeface that was created based on hand lettering and scribes. Due to the way the writing tools were back in the old days, the lettering would have serifs. Oldstyle is known to have subtle thick/thin transitions. Generally when writing a lot of text, Oldstyle is what you should aim to use if you want to go the safe route.

Modern

Moving right along on the historical typography timeline we get to modern. With the advancement of technology which allowed for printing and better paper, more typefaces were created. They started to steer away from mimicking that of writing tools. Although different, Modern is similar to its predecessor in that it has serifs. However, instead of being slanted the serifs are usually straight. In terms of thick/thin transition, usually you’ll find that they’re pretty radical. 

Although it’s sharpness makes for an elegant appearance, it’s not ideal to use it for large bodies of text. This is because the drastic thick/thin transition create an effect in which the thin lines seem to disappear.

Slab serif

Slab serif came along with the concept of advertising which sprouted after the industrial revolution. The idea was the have bold, thick letters to pop out and grab people’s attention. Sometimes called Clarendon or Egyptian, this typeface generally has little to no thick/thin transition. They are relatively mono-weight, and the Slab serifs with slight thick/thin contrasts are very high on the readability scale. Due to this fact, you can usually find it being used in children’s books.

Sans serif

This typeface is very familiar to a lot of people especially due to its popularity on online web interfaces. A helpful tip to remember this type is that “sans” means without. So essentially it means “without a serif”. Removing the serif became wildly popular in the twentieth century. This typeface is almost always mono-weight but the families have a wide variety of weights ranging from light to extra black making them great visually. However, when combining these you should be mindful of the few that do have a slight thick/thin transition. When considering the fact that you should always try to use contrast when combining typefaces, Sans serifs with slight thick/thin transitions have similarities with serifs.

Script

This is probably one of the most identifiable typefaces mentioned. It closely resembles text that has been written with a pen or brush. There are various different types of these, however. Some scripts connect, some don’t, some look like hand printing, some look calligraphic, and so on. These look very elegant but should be used sparingly as it’s hard on the eyes to read in large texts. When used correctly, they’re absolutely stunning!

Decorative

Next to Script, this is also very identifiable. Decorative fonts can add life to your page, and they can take on the task of invoking a certain emotion. Due to their distinctiveness, these shouldn’t be used in large bodies of text. Actually, you might want to use them sparingly to carry out a specific purpose. However, be brave enough to use them and watch how they give you a great new look!

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