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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Typography series: What is a Sans-serif font?

Blocky, delicate or robust, the Sans-serif typeface is a chameleon of weights and angular edges. It varies drastically, either being used for its fine, light weights, sturdy bolder frames, or for simply keeping it minimal and super clean with its non-fussy edging. Let’s explore – what is a Sans-serif font?

In this typography series, we understand what makes the selection of typography crucial. We explain how fonts help us to process information and how they change perceptions.

It’s all in the name

So, what is a Sans-Serif font? Its name directly translates from the French ‘without Serif’, thus lacking the details and flicks found at the end of Serif characters.

If you muddle your Serifs with your Sans-serifs, then understanding its heritage might be of help. Though particularly new to the plethora of typefaces, Sans-serif was popularised by the Bauhaus design movement, gaining popularity by the 1920s. Jump forward several decades and you’ll find Sans-serif fonts dominating the online world due to its on-screen legibility – their abundance of weights make highlighting and visually processing key information easy, whilst their clean lines add a light touch whilst being pleasing to the eye.

Take a look at the well known Sans-serif examples below.

We are family

Don’t you just love a good typeface? With Sans-serif you have 4 main classifications to chose from. Whilst sharing similarities, they each have their own flare. Take a look below.

Grotesque: These are the earliest created versions of Sans-serifs and because of this, they share a closer resemblance to Serif typefaces, albeit minus the characteristic ‘flicks’.

Neo-grotesque: These have a more simplistic and clean structure and have a more polished overall look to them, in relation to their Grotesque sibling.

Geometric: Based on geometric forms, the Geometric typefaces have round ‘o’s’ and simple ‘a’s’ displayed with a characteristic circle and tail. Deriving from shapes, these typefaces display little stroke weight difference.

Humanist: Identified by their calligraphic influence, uneven stroke weights are common amongst this typeface.

Typography fact: The term ‘Sans-serif’ wasn’t always commonplace among English typography with its predecessor called ‘gothic’. However, this term is still used in East Asian typography.

Need some help?

There are many things to consider with a font whether it be in your logo or your day to day use. All Threerooms brands are created with carefully crafted logos and considered fonts. If you want to find your font, get in touch for a chat.

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An award-winning branding agency, Threerooms has spent over 15 years making brands stronger and businesses more successful. Whether modernising brands with meaning or crafting effective marketing campaigns, our amazing team is focused on delivering brand transformation while providing exceptional customer service.

Want to work together? Get in touch today.


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