The Importance of Serifs

Whether you are enthralled by letters, or it would be impossible for you to hate them any more, any designer knows typography is essential to good design. This post is meant to show the importance of serifs, and how they can invoke feelings, denote eras, themes, or genres, and how you can use this to your advantage and make something truly wonderful!

First off, serifs are the tiny little points on letters. For those of you who are more visual, this should explain it better.


There are millions of fonts, and each should, can, and sometimes isn’t used for a specific purpose. If you have a friend that’s a designer, you probably already know their most hated font of all time is comic sans. I won’t go into that, but even comic sans was created for a purpose, and each letter helps to create a bigger picture and fit into the finished masterpiece of whatever its a part of. Here are some examples that inspired me to post this.

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 1.58.48 PMThis is a piece made for John Mayer’s Born and Raised album. This work is simply amazing, and I am always humbled seeing this man’s work, because it’s just so spectacular. These letters specifically, and David’s work in general looks like something out of the Victorian era. This feeling and look is shown through the serifs on the letters. They are more of flourishes than serifs really, but that specific detail is what creates the whole look. More can be found here //

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 12.36.17 PMThis is piece is by someone I follow on Instagram that has been a huge inspiration to me named Michael Brunt. More work can be found here // // This is one piece that looks like something from the 1920’s, specifically in the Prohibition era. n8495

The texture also adds a vintage touch, but the serifs and letters tell more of the story. There is also a wide range of themes and genres that can come from the thickness of each serif. In this case, each serif is not very tall, but it’s thick and rounded. It is similar to Copperplate. If you go tall, long, and pointy on the serifs, it can start looking like Times New Roman, or Goudy, and can give the text an old fashioned, but classy look.


Today, there are so many different kinds of serifs, and most of them have an old-time feel. If you wanted something more modern, it was easier to use a sans-serif font, which is a font without serifs. But more recently, there has been a huge boom in a new kind of serif that I really enjoy! They’re called slab-serifs, and they look kind of like this: Letro-Font-modern-slab-serif-font-by-HypeForType-43657Where regular serifs should be, there are thick rectangles. It gives letters a modern, new-age feel, and I love them! They’re the one serif exception that can be used in modern designs, and gives the letters weight, but also the little flare that regular serifs add to letters.


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