Typography Classification - First Things First


This is a new annotation or continuation (My New Venture in Font Design) of my typography / font design learning process. Recently I have been studying the most simple, basic, but at the same time complicated classifications in typography design. Blackletter, Display, Sans Serif, Script, Serif, Slab Serif, Symbol and System in this case.

 In my opinion is somewhat complex, for the amount of details that specify that this font is in some category or another. What I'm going to share are my discoveries on Wikipedia (Woof! what a discovery), I know, it's too obvious to be a discovery, but is brilliant for the amount of information linked on every page. Anyway, is what I have chosen to understand how, when and where there were created.



BlackletterBlackletter, also known as Gothic script, Gothic minuscule, or Textura, was a script used throughout Western Europe from approximately 1150 to well into the 17th century. It continued to be used for the German language until the 20th century. Fraktur is a notable script of this type, and sometimes the entire group of faces is known as Fraktur. Blackletter is sometimes called Old English, but it is not to be confused with the Old English language, despite the popular, though mistaken, belief that the language was written with blackletter. The Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) language predates black letter by many centuries, and was itself written in the insular script.



Sans Serif

sans serifIn typography, a sans-serif, sans serif, san serif or simply sans typeface is one that does not have the small projecting features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. The term comes from the French word sans, meaning "without". Sans-serif fonts tend to have less line width variation than serif fonts.

In print, sans-serif fonts are used for headlines rather than for body text.[1] The conventional wisdom holds that serifs help guide the eye along the lines in large blocks of text. Sans-serifs, however, have acquired considerable acceptance for body text in Europe.

Sans-serif fonts have become the de facto standard for body text on-screen, especially online. This is partly because interlaced displays may show twittering on the fine details of the horizontal serifs. Additionally, the low resolution of digital displays in general can make fine details like serifs disappear or appear too large.




displayDisplay typography is a potent element in graphic design, where there is less concern for readability and more potential for using type in an artistic manner. Type is combined with negative space, graphic elements and pictures, forming relationships and dialog between words and images.

Color and size of type elements are much more prevalent than in text typography. Most display typography exploits type at larger sizes, where the details of letter design are magnified. Color is used for its emotional effect in conveying the tone and nature of subject matter.




ScriptScript typefaces are based upon the varied and often fluid stroke created by handwriting. They are organized into highly regular formal types similar to cursive writing and looser, more casual scripts.

Formal scripts

A majority of formal scripts are based upon the letterforms of seventeenth and eighteenth century writing-masters like George Bickham, George Shelley and George Snell. The letters in their original form are generated by a quill or metal nib of a pen. Both are able to create fine and thick strokes. Typefaces based upon their style of writing appear late in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century. Contemporary revivals of formal script faces can be seen in Kuenstler Script and Matthew Carter's typeface Snell Roundhand. These typefaces are frequently used for invitations and diplomas to effect an elevated and elegant feeling.

Casual scripts

Casual scripts show a less formal, more active hand. The strokes may vary in width but often appear to have been created by wet brush rather than a pen nib. They appear in the early twentieth century and with the advent of photocomposition in the early-1950s their number rapidly increased. They were popularly used in advertising in Europe and North America into the 1970s. Examples of casual script types include Brush Script, Kaufmann and Mistral.




SerifIn typography, serifs are the small lines tailing from the edges of letters and symbols, such as when handwriting is separated into distinct units for a typewriter or typsetter. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface). A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning "without". Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as "Grotesque" (in German "grotesk") or "Gothic", and serif typefaces as "Roman".



Slab Serif

Slab SerifIn typography, a slab serif (also called mechanistic, square serif or Egyptian) typeface is a type of serif typeface characterized by thick, block-like serifs. Serif terminals may be either blunt and angular (Rockwell), or rounded (Courier). Slab serif typefaces generally have no bracket (feature connecting the strokes to the serifs). Some consider slab serifs to be a subset of modern serif typefaces.

Because of their bold appearance, they are most commonly used in large headlines and advertisements but are seldom used in body text. One recent exception to the general lack of the use of Slab Serif in body text is Egyptienne, a font designed for the newspaper The Guardian in the UK, which is used throughout the paper and within its body. Another common exception to this rule is in the use of monospaced text, many fonts for which are modeled on the typefaces used by typewriters. Though widely utilized in the field of computer science due to their fixed-width nature, the everyday use of typewriter-like fonts is declining in the wake of electronic publishing and the spread of electronic reading devices.




SymbolSymbol is one of the four standard fonts available on all PostScript-based printers, starting with Apple's original LaserWriter (1985). It contains a complete unaccented Greek alphabet (upper and lower case) and a selection of commonly used mathematical symbols. Insofar as it fits into any standard classification, it is a serif font designed in the style of Times Roman.

Due to its non-standard character set, lack of diacritical characters, and type design inappropriate for continuous text, Symbol cannot easily be used for setting Greek language text, though it has been used for that purpose in the absence of proper Greek fonts. Its primary purpose is to typeset mathematical expressions.




System fontSystem is a family of proportional raster fonts distributed with Microsoft Windows. The font family contains fonts encoded in several Windows code pages, with multiple resolutions of the font for each code page. Fonts of different code pages have different point sizes. Under DBCS Windows environment, specifying this font may also cause application to use non-System fonts when displaying texts.

In Windows 2000 or later, changing script setting in some application's font dialogue (e.g.: Notepad, WordPad) causes the font to look completely different, even under same font size. Similarly, changing language setting for Windows applications that do not support Unicode will alter the appearance of the font.

When Windows is running with low system resources, System is the fallback font used for displaying texts.