in Misc

Where can I use Serif fonts?

The Serif versus Sans debate is one that rages between those in the creative community and has for years now. Each person has their personal preference, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses. Ultimately, it depends on the eye of the creator of the content and how it fits in with their overall design motif.

Serifs definitely have a “fancy” luxurious look to them. They provide a level of sophistication that other fonts, particularly Sans, do not. For that reason, Serif fonts remain a popular option in every sort of media and print and likely will remain that way for a long time to come. The thing is, if you are just starting out as a graphic designer or in print media, you may not quite know where to use the Serif font or how to get free Serif fonts.

So, where do you use those Serif fonts? Here is a bit of a guide.


Where to use Serif fonts

While there isn’t necessarily a hard and fast rule for Serifs, there are a few things that you generally want to stick with when using those Serif fonts. For those projects that might involve a lengthier amount of text such as newspapers, books, as well as most magazines, you will find Serif typefaces most commonly used in these instances. There are a few reasons for their prevalence in these instances: perceived readability and a historical precedent.

On the other hand, you would use sans serif typefaces for things like brochures and annual reports. Those sans serif fonts work best for magazines as well as other materials that would allow for something of a more liberal design approach. Sans serif typeface can be a great choice for those shorter text settings — things like credits, captions, column headings, and for text in graphs and charts. It has a simplified letterform that is unencumbered by serifs, which can ultimately impede the overall readability of characters at smaller sizes.


What audiences are Serif fonts used for?

The type of audience that you are appealing to can make a difference in the type of font that you select as well. For young children, as well as anyone who might be just beginning to learn to read, a sans serif might be preferred. Your serifs are better served for audiences that are well into their adult years; serif fonts can be difficult for new readers to interpret.

The key to using the right font is to know your audience. As stated, adults typically have far more experience reading, so using a serif font might not hinder their ability to read the font successfully. Making the right choice here takes a bit of trial and error and pairing it well with the rest of your overall style and design.


What other type of treatments or colors might be used?

The thing about Serif strokes is that they are versatile. They can be thick or thin, robust or subtle. It is worth noting that delicate Serifs might be somewhat challenging to reproduce precisely and crisply in certain scenarios. Most notably, it can be difficult when you are reversing them out of a dark color, pattern, or photograph since they tend to break up; printing them in CMYK since the edges can look weak or fuzzy. The less risky proposition is to print them in a solid, spot color. It might be more helpful to select the kind of serif typeface with sturdier features if not opting for a sans serif.



Ultimately, serifs can produce a more luxurious, radiant font that can stand out and feel a bit more high-class than your sans serifs. But because of the perceived readability of a serif, it is important that you know your audience and that you take stock of the thickness of the font as well as color. These factors can result in difficult readability if the wrong types are chosen, so work with a bit of trial and error to see what might work better than the rest.

The debate between serif and sans serif will continue to read because of different preferences that favor each. Knowing what your audience prefers will make the battle much easier and will allow you to pick the typeface that will suit your design and overall format.


Bogdan is the founder of Top Design Magazine. You can find him in Bucharest-Romania so next time you want to drink a beer there and talk about web and stuff, give him a message.