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Design 101 | 7 Typographic Resources and 1 Type Joke

A photo of different font designs and colors

Can’t decide between serif and sans serif fonts? (Not even sure what that means?)

You’re in the right place — this article shares examples of serif and sans serif fonts — plus a whole lot more.

Your font choice tells a lot about your business and what it stands for. Marketing guru Seth Godin talks about it here.

Before you decide what you want the font to say, let’s review the two main font categories.

Serif fonts: Classic, timeless, easy-to-read

creating a brand that's strong by understanding how and when to use serif type

Serif fonts have little “feet” at the bottoms of the letters.

You probably have Georgia and Times Roman on your computer, and those are both serif fonts. They are classic, timeless and make your business look established.

Serif fonts are good for long blocks of text, too, which is why most books and magazines are set in them.

Sans serif fonts: Streamlined, modern, contemporary

creating a brand that's strong by understanding how and when to use a sans serif font

Sans means “without,” so sans serif fonts are “without” the little feet that serif fonts have.

You probably have Arial and Verdana on your computer, and they are both sans serif fonts.

Sans serif fonts are streamlined, modern and contemporary and make your business look cutting-edge and modern. They’re good for instructions, or any time clarity is important. Sans serif fonts look great on the web, and many sites use them as text fonts.

To make your job easier, I recommend you use no more than two fonts. Pick full “families,” with regular, italic, semi-bold and bold weights. That will give you lots of options for headlines, subheads and captions.

For maximum versatility, pick a serif and a sans serif font that work well together.

This can be tricky to get just right (combining serif and sans serif fonts stumps professional graphic designers all the time).

Read on for one way to make serif and sans serif fonts look great together.

Use Your “AGE”

To combine a serif and sans serif font, look for similar letter forms. The best letters to try to match up are lower case “a,” “g,” and “e.” Let’s take a look:

creating a brand that's strong by understanding how to combine typefaces

See the font sample to the left? Notice the shape of the letter “a.” Now look at the “g” and “e.”

Which of the following sans serif fonts will combine well with the example above?

to combine sans serif fonts with serif fonts, look closely at the letter shapes
to combine sans serif fonts with serif fonts, look closely at the letter shapes

The lower case “a,” “g,” and “e” in Example A are the best match. The letter forms are similar. These two fonts will combine well without clashing.

Found your serif or sans serif font? Here’s how to use it:

In search of typography resources

It’s easy to find fonts on the web at low or no cost. Be careful, though: many are low quality, and will make your business look unprofessional.

A quality, full-family font that represents your business is a great investment.

What’s a “full-family font?”

A full-family font simply means that the font includes many weights — from light to bold. Including lots of font weights means you’ll have more styles to choose from.

Whether you decide to use a serif or a sans serif font, look for full-family fonts.

Paid fonts

Since font technology doesn’t evolve as quickly as software, your font should still be as usable in 20 years as it is today, so don’t be afraid to invest if you find the perfect serif or sans serif font for your brand.

Adobe Fonts, Fonts.com and Myfonts.com are three good resources where you can invest in fonts to represent your business.

Free fonts

For no-cost fonts, try the links below.

Warning: Looking at a huge gallery of font choices can feel overwhelming!

Remember, aim for quality, readability, and a full family of weights:

Google fonts | fontsquirrel.com | dafont.com

BONUS: Font resources you can find on this site

This site is chock-full of font resources! Explore these articles:

Related: Font Styles that Work: 5 Favorite Free Font Combinations

Related: Are You Falling for Font Falsehoods? What Matters for Picking the Best Font Size

Related: Type Styles of the Rich and Famous

Pick a font joke

And just for fun, a few font jokes — pick your favorite!

Pamela Wilson

Pamela Wilson is the Chief Marketing Officer at DCS. She’s the creator of the Offer Accelerator Program. Learn more about Pamela’s content marketing books, and read reviews of the tools used to run this site.
Pamela Wilson coaches people in midlife to build profitable online businesses
I’m Pamela Wilson

In 2010, at the age of 45, I started this site and grew it into a business that offers freedom, flexibility — and consistent revenue.

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