Unit 1: Intro to Design
Unit 2: Figma Fundamentals
Unit 3: The Creative Process
Unit 4: Color Theory
Unit 5: Introduction to Illustrator
Unit 6: Typography
Unit 7: Layout
Unit 8: Typesetting
Unit 9: User Interface Design
Unit 10: Design Systems
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Common Classifications

There are several types of fonts that we as designers will encounter frequently.

The first one is called serif.

Serif

A Serif is the little line that trails off a letter shape. The most common serif typefaces are Times (New) Roman, Baskerville, Caslon, Garamond and Bodoni but there are plenty more. Serif fonts have always been seen as more traditional.

Serifs were believed to have originated in the Latin Alphabet with words carved into stone in Roman Antiquity. The Roman letter outlines were first painted onto stone, and the stone carvers followed the brush marks which flared at stroke ends and corners, creating serifs.

Serif fonts are usually used in lengthy text, such as books, newspapers and most magazines and are the most commonly used printed typestyle due to perceived readability.

San Serif

Once you understand what a Serif is, it’s easy to explain a San Serif, which doesn’t have the trailing lines because “san” means without. Popular san serifs include Helvetica, Arial, Geneva, Tahoma and Verdana. San serif fonts are used widely on the Internet. They are considered as more contemporary than the Serif font.

Sans-serif letters began to appear in printed media as early as 1805. They were popular due to their clarity and legibility in advertising and display use when printed very large or very small.

Sans-serif fonts have become the most prevalent for display of text on computer screens, partly because screens tend to struggle to show fine serif details in small type.

Slab Serif

Although Serif and San Serif are the main type categories, there are others included Slab Serif. Slab Serif is a font with a thick bold serif. Rockwell is the best known Slab Serif although typewriter style fonts are also Slab Serif like Courier and American Typewriter.

Display Fonts

Display fonts are part of a broad category and can generally be treated as such due to being used at large sizes. Because of this and sometimes due to their varied and un-unified form, they are usually seen as unsuitable for the clarity needed for body copy. Display fonts are meant to be used as headings.

Walter Tracy, a renowned English type designer, once described display typefaces as text that “when enlarged can be used for headings… if reduced, cannot be used for text setting.”

Some display fonts only have 1 weight. They can be serif, san serif, slab serif or any other categories of fonts. The only way to tell if a font is designated as a display font for sure is to check the font’s original design documentation. In general, if you see a font that has only 1 weight or only has capital letters with no lowercase letters available, you can safely assume that it is supposed to be a display font.

Next, let’s talk about a few less frequently used types of fonts.

Monospaced Fonts

Monospaced fonts date back to the typewriter days. Monospaced characters have a fixed width, or the same amount of horizontal space. These fonts were invented to comply with the mechanical requirements of typewriters. Because the spacing of each character is the same, the text can become difficult to read.

Monospaced fonts were also widely used in the early computer days because they had limited graphical capabilities. The hardware allowed the use of text on a grid, not only horizontally but also vertically.

Bergen Mono is a good example of a monospaced font. A lot of other typefaces that look similar to typewriter typefaces are also monospaced fonts.

Nowadays, monospaced fonts are used primarily for stylistic purposes. It has a nostalgic quality that some design calls for.

Script Fonts

Another type of fonts that are less frequently used is script fonts. Script fonts is a type of font that mimics cursive handwriting. It is a typeface with a personal touch like calligraphy.

They are very easy to recognize mostly because they have over-the-top curls and flourishes that extend from the serif. Casual script fonts, on the other hand, resemble calligraphy only with fewer swashes. You can use them for more casual design jobs to give your designs a casual homey feel.

Decorative Fonts

Decorative and display fonts became popular in the 19th century and were used extensively on posters and advertisements. This style of type and lettering could be artistic and eye-catching in a way that wasn’t considered previously.

As their name suggests, decorative typefaces should be used for decorative or ornamental purposes. They are not appropriate typeface choices for body text.

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