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When to Use Sans Serif Fonts

Sans Serif Fonts
Sans Serif Fonts

Whether you’re promoting a brand, creating something for viewers, or want to share your thoughts through text, choosing the right font is important.

Maybe you’re thinking a font is just that, a font. What’s the big deal? But the font you select can evoke its own message and mood just by how it looks, which is why it’s a good idea to put some thought into the one you select.

There are two main font types: serif and sans serif. Their differences are subtle at first, but they can convey completely different tones.

What are serif and sans serif fonts? How are they different? When should you use sans serif instead of serif?

Keep reading for an overview of sans serif and the best ways to put it to use.

You Want a Modern Look

If serif is the traditional and old-school font, sans serif is its modern, minimalist brother. 

Believe it or not, sans serif was originally controversial due to its edgy and contemporary look.

While sans serif is generally considered modern, there are thousands of different sans serif fonts that can give you the futuristic, clean look you’re going for. Plus, if you don’t find the perfect modern one, you can even use font editing software to customize a sans serif font to your exact specifications.

If you’re promoting a new brand or idea and want a tone that emanates youth and forward-thinking, sans serif is a perfect choice. 

Your Text Space Is Limited

Sans serif is ideal if you don’t have a lot of space for your text.

This could include instances where you only need a few words, like logos or labels on maps. Sans serif also works well when you have limited space but need to fit in the important text, such as on a business card or wording in apps.

Because the font doesn’t have serif’s decorative strokes, it fits together more compactly and takes up less space. Even if the text is super close together, it doesn’t look squished or illegible due to its orderly, unembellished characteristics.

Your Audience Is in a Hurry

Sans serif is known for being very legible due to its clean appearance.

Maybe you’re addressing readers with your font choice and need something they can skim quickly and easily. For example, you’re planning the font for a website or brochure and are prioritizing readability as well as aesthetics.

There’s a reason why so many apps and websites use sans serif for their text. Even the default font for an email is a sans serif font. Why is this? It’s easy and quick to read, making it perfect for when you’re crunched for time.

You Need Text That’s Legible from Far Away

Ever notice the font used on highway exits or stop signs? That’s right, it’s sans serif. 

While the tails and feet of serif fonts give off a traditional and authoritative tone, they can make letters hard to discern when you’re looking at them from far away.

The simplicity of sans serif is its strong suit. The clean and unembellished letters are more legible than serif fonts, making it easy to read the text from a distance.

Your Focus Is on Digital Spaces

Sans serif is dominating the digital world.

This isn’t a coincidence. Many of the reasons are aspects that have already been mentioned, like the ease of readability and a desire for a modern look.

Another advantage of sans serif is that it’s adaptable, which is a unique feature of digital spaces as well. Sans serif can move between being made larger or smaller without the quality diminishing or it becomes harder to read. 

Since sans serif is the “modern” font, it’s no surprise that it’s mostly used in digital spaces like websites, apps, and even text messages. While sans serif is used in print formats too, it really blends in smoothly with its environment when used online.

You might use sans serif for social media graphic design, in a blog post, or for UX design, to name a few.

What’s the Difference Between Serif and Sans Serif? 

Serif is a font that started in the 18th century and describes text that has extra decorative strokes, often called “tails” and “feet.” These extra strokes are said to have evolved from calligraphers’ brushstrokes, mimicking their flicks of the wrist.

The most popular serif fonts include Times New Roman, Georgia, Palatino, and Baskerville. 

Sans serif, on the other hand, is a font that eliminates the extra strokes on letters. “Sans” literally means “without,” meaning the font is without serifs.

Sans serif didn’t appear until the 1900s during the era of modernism. The font fits in well with the time period due to its modern and sleek look.

Well-known and commonly used sans serif fonts include Arial, Futura, Helvetica, Calibri, and so many more.

Decide if Sans Serif Is Right for Your Specific Project

There are lots of adjectives that could be used to describe sans serif, including playful, relatable, and simple. The main questions you need to ask when deciding whether you should use sans serif are, “What do I want my font to say to readers? What is its purpose?”

Don’t just choose sans serif because you think you should, make sure it’s the right fit. Sans serif is great for a startup, tech website, or contemporary art gallery, but it might not be the best choice for a historic newspaper or law firm.

Once you have a good idea of how sans serif can benefit your project, choose the one that speaks to you. 

Did you find this article helpful? If so, take a look at the rest of our website.

Read more: 6 Useful Tips How To Get Instagram Free Followers

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