October 12, 2016
Why We Love Serif Typefaces
Serif type has a bad reputation. People often think of it as traditional, formal, or just plain boring. We couldn’t disagree more.
When we meet with clients to kick off a branding project, we often hear the same thing: “We only like sans serif fonts.”
Serif typefaces are seen by some as old fashioned, but they are often the perfect way to add sophistication to logos or web copy. They also have been used less frequently in recent years, which means that serifs again can feel modern and fresh.
What is a serif, exactly? According to Typography Deconstructed, it’s “a stroke added as a stop to the beginning and end of the main strokes of a character.” Some people identify serifs as the “feet” on a letter or number. Sans serif typefaces lack this additional flourish.
Letterforms come in all shapes and sizes, and although most of us are sick of seeing resumes or official documents written in Times New Roman, it’s unfair to disregard an entire category because of a particular typeface.
Serifs have a formal look but can be used in a fresh way as a main component of a strong visual identity. In fact, when used in this manner, serifs can be elegant, modern, and most importantly, unexpected. Combining a serif with a sans-serif can create a dynamic exchange between different messaging materials.
There’s an old fashion myth: one should never wear black and navy together. This “style rule” is a perfect example of taking a personal preference and applying it to an entire industry. Thankfully, rules are broken all the time by creative designers.
A piece of design, whether it’s a website, annual report, or logotype, rarely relies on typography alone to get the job done. We are firm believers that a brand’s message should always come first, and sometimes, a serif typeface can communicate your brand and message most accurately.
Here are some of our favorite serif typefaces:
From the classics, we love: Caslon, Garamond, Bodoni (used in the main image in this post), Georgia, Sabon (these last two are both part of Highway Twenty’s visual identity, in web and print, respectively). Most recently, we’ve set our eyes on Butler, Pobla, Mrs. Eaves, and Bembo.