A pitfall that I often meet on appointment: Typography and font selection.
Today, I offer you to see two things. On the one hand, what types of fonts to choose when designing a site and on the other hand, how to defend your choices (or those of your designer).
1 – Several types of fonts
When talking about a modern subject, I quite like to touch the historical context. It helps to understand a few more things.
First, the serifs in typography would come from marks left by writing tools (inks and engravings). These gave the “serif” style.
Moreover, it seems that the Romans used the serifs to create effects of light on large engravings. This would give a great readability on buildings.
The “sans-serif” style, namely, without serifs, became popular more recently. I found 1920 on this Wikipedia article, from the inspiration of the Bauhaus.
But non-serif fonts have been found within Humanist style or even gothic style.
In the early days of computing, because of low screen resolutions, the sans-serif was much more used than the serif. That said, the latter is gradually coming back, due to technical improvements.
2 – Differences between screen and paper
The major difference between the two supports is, in my opinion, the ink. On screen, no ink. While the paper absorbs the latter. As a result, the font does not look exactly the same.
This is why some fonts are made and thought for printing (with this ink constraint that will not make the same effect once absorbed and dry).
Screen fonts are already designed to look exactly as they are conceived.
For more information, I recommend the fabulous book On Web Typography by Jason Santa Maria, proposed by the superb collection A Book Apart. I specify that, although I worship this series of books, it is not a product placement.
On top of that, let’s dive into the 4 most used font types and in which cases to choose them.
3 – The 4 types
On the menu, we will talk about serif, sans-serif, cursive and slab. Enjoy your meal !
It’s not because I’ve introduced 4 font families that you have to use them all in your designs. I have often noticed that the designs I like the most are limited to 2 or 3 different fonts.
What’s more, it’s not a sacrosanct law that I wrote. The best is to test, however, you can use it to argue and based on understandable elements to detail your font choices.