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This article is about the font characteristic. Serif_sentence_0

For the software company, see Serif Europe. Serif_sentence_1

For other uses, see Serif (disambiguation). Serif_sentence_2

In typography, a serif (/ˈsɛrɪf/) is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. Serif_sentence_3

A typeface or "font family" making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. Serif_sentence_4

Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as "grotesque" (in German, grotesk) or "Gothic", and serif typefaces as "roman". Serif_sentence_5

Origins and etymology Serif_section_0

Serifs originated in the Latin alphabet with inscriptional lettering—words carved into stone in Roman antiquity. Serif_sentence_6

The explanation proposed by Father Edward Catich in his 1968 book The Origin of the Serif is now broadly but not universally accepted: the Roman letter outlines were first painted onto stone, and the stone carvers followed the brush marks, which flared at stroke ends and corners, creating serifs. Serif_sentence_7

Another theory is that serifs were devised to neaten the ends of lines as they were chiselled into stone. Serif_sentence_8

The origin of the word serif is obscure, but apparently is almost as recent as the type style. Serif_sentence_9

The book The British Standard of the Capital Letters contained in the Roman Alphabet, forming a complete code of systematic rules for a mathematical construction and accurate formation of the same (1813) by William Hollins, defined surripses, usually pronounced "surriphs", as "projections which appear at the tops and bottoms of some letters, the O and Q excepted, at the beginning or end, and sometimes at each, of all". Serif_sentence_10

The standard also proposed that surripsis may be a Greek word derived from σῠν- (sun-, together) and ῥῖψῐς (rhîpsis, projection). Serif_sentence_11

In 1827, a Greek scholar Julian Hibbert printed with his own experimental uncial Greek types, remarking that the types of Giambattista Bodoni's Callimachus were "ornamented (or rather disfigured) by additions of what [he] believe[s] type-founders call syrifs or cerefs". Serif_sentence_12

The printer Thomas Curson Hansard referred to them as "ceriphs" in 1825. Serif_sentence_13

The oldest citations in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) are 1830 for serif and 1841 for sans serif. Serif_sentence_14

The OED speculates that serif was a back-formation from sanserif. Serif_sentence_15

Webster's Third New International Dictionary traces serif to the Dutch noun schreef, meaning "line, stroke of the pen", related to the verb schrappen, "to delete, strike through" (schreef now also means "serif" in Dutch). Serif_sentence_16

Yet, schreef is the past tense of schrijven (to write). Serif_sentence_17

The relation between schreef and schrappen is documented by Van Veen and Van der Sijs. Serif_sentence_18

In her Chronologisch Woordenboek, Van der Sijs lists words by first known publication in the language area that is The Netherlands today: schrijven, 1100; schreef, 1350; schrappen, 1406 (i.e. schreef is from schrijven [to write], not from schrappen [to scratch, eliminate by strike-through]). Serif_sentence_19

The OED's earliest citation for "grotesque" in this sense is 1875, giving stone-letter as a synonym. Serif_sentence_20

It would seem to mean "out of the ordinary" in this usage, as in art grotesque usually means "elaborately decorated". Serif_sentence_21

Other synonyms include "Doric" and "Gothic", commonly used for Japanese Gothic typefaces. Serif_sentence_22

Classification Serif_section_1

Serif fonts can be broadly classified into one of four subgroups: old style, transitional, Didone and slab serif, in order of first appearance. Serif_sentence_23

Old-style Serif_section_2

Old-style typefaces date back to 1465, shortly after Johannes Gutenberg's adoption of the movable type printing press. Serif_sentence_24

Early printers in Italy created types that broke with Gutenberg's blackletter printing, creating upright and later italic styles inspired by Renaissance calligraphy. Serif_sentence_25

Old-style serif fonts have remained popular for setting body text because of their organic appearance and excellent readability on rough book paper. Serif_sentence_26

The increasing interest in early printing during the late 19th and early 20th centuries saw a return to the designs of Renaissance printers and type-founders, many of whose names and designs are still used today. Serif_sentence_27

Old style type is characterized by a lack of large differences between thick and thin lines (low line contrast) and generally, but less often, by a diagonal stress (the thinnest parts of letters are at an angle rather than at the top and bottom). Serif_sentence_28

An old-style font normally has a left-inclining curve axis with weight stress at about 8 and 2 o'clock; serifs are almost always bracketed (they have curves connecting the serif to the stroke); head serifs are often angled. Serif_sentence_29

Old-style faces evolved over time, showing increasing abstraction from what would now be considered handwriting and blackletter characteristics, and often increased delicacy or contrast as printing technique improved. Serif_sentence_30

Old-style faces have often sub-divided into Venetian (or humanist) and Garalde (or Aldine), a division made on the Vox-ATypI classification system. Serif_sentence_31

Nonetheless, some have argued that the difference is excessively abstract, hard to spot except to specialists and implies a clearer separation between styles than originally appeared. Serif_sentence_32

Modern typefaces such as Arno and Trinité may fuse both styles. Serif_sentence_33

Early "humanist" roman types were introduced in Italy. Serif_sentence_34

Modelled on the script of the period, they tend to feature an "e" in which the cross stroke is angled, not horizontal; an "M" with two-way serifs; and often a relatively dark colour on the page. Serif_sentence_35

In modern times, that of Nicolas Jenson has been the most admired, with many revivals. Serif_sentence_36

Garaldes, which tend to feature a level cross-stroke on the "e", descend from an influential 1495 font cut by engraver Francesco Griffo for printer Aldus Manutius, which became the inspiration for many typefaces cut in France from the 1530s onwards. Serif_sentence_37

Often lighter on the page and made in larger sizes than had been used for roman type before, French Garalde faces rapidly spread throughout Europe from the 1530s to become an international standard. Serif_sentence_38

Also during this period, italic type evolved from a quite separate genre of type, intended for informal uses such as poetry, into taking a secondary role for emphasis. Serif_sentence_39

Italics moved from being conceived as separate designs and proportions to being able to be fitted into the same line as roman type with a design complementary to it. Serif_sentence_40

A new genre of serif type developed around the 17th century in the Netherlands and Germany that came to be called the "Dutch taste" ("goût Hollandois" in French). Serif_sentence_41

It was a tendency towards denser, more solid typefaces, often with a high x-height (tall lower-case letters) and a sharp contrast between thick and thin strokes, perhaps influenced by blackletter faces. Serif_sentence_42

Examples of contemporary Garalde old-style typefaces are Bembo, Garamond, Galliard, Granjon, Goudy Old Style, Minion, Palatino, Renard, Sabon, and Scala. Serif_sentence_43

Contemporary typefaces with Venetian old style characteristics include Cloister, Adobe Jenson, the Golden Type, Hightower Text, Centaur, Goudy's Italian Old Style and Berkeley Old Style and ITC Legacy. Serif_sentence_44

Several of these blend in Garalde influences to fit modern expectations, especially placing single-sided serifs on the "M"; Cloister is an exception. Serif_sentence_45

Artists in the "Dutch taste" style include Hendrik van den Keere, Nicolaas Briot, Christoffel van Dijck, Miklós Tótfalusi Kis and the Janson and Ehrhardt types based on his work and Caslon, especially the larger sizes. Serif_sentence_46

Transitional Serif_section_3

Transitional, or baroque, serif typefaces first became common around the mid-18th century until the start of the nineteenth. Serif_sentence_47

They are in between "old style" and "modern" fonts, thus the name "transitional". Serif_sentence_48

Differences between thick and thin lines are more pronounced than they are in old style, but less dramatic than they are in the Didone fonts that followed. Serif_sentence_49

Stress is more likely to be vertical, and often the "R" has a curled tail. Serif_sentence_50

The ends of many strokes are marked not by blunt or angled serifs but by ball terminals. Serif_sentence_51

Transitional faces often have an italic h that opens outwards at bottom right. Serif_sentence_52

Because the genre bridges styles, it is difficult to define where the genre starts and ends. Serif_sentence_53

Many of the most popular transitional designs are later creations in the same style. Serif_sentence_54

Fonts from the original period of transitional typefaces include early on the "romain du roi" in France, then the work of Pierre Simon Fournier in France, Fleischman and Rosart in the Netherlands, Pradel in Spain and John Baskerville and Bulmer in England. Serif_sentence_55

Among more recent designs, Times New Roman (1932), Perpetua, Plantin, Mrs. Serif_sentence_56 Eaves, Freight Text and the earlier "modernised old styles" have been described as transitional in design. Serif_sentence_57

Later 18th-century transitional typefaces in Britain begin to show influences of Didone typefaces from Europe, described below, and the two genres blur, especially in type intended for body text; Bell is an example of this. Serif_sentence_58

Didone Serif_section_4

Main article: Didone (typography) Serif_sentence_59

Didone, or modern, serif typefaces, which first emerged in the late 18th century, are characterized by extreme contrast between thick and thin lines. Serif_sentence_60

These typefaces have a vertical stress and thin serifs with a constant width, with minimal bracketing (constant width). Serif_sentence_61

Serifs tend to be very thin, and vertical lines very heavy. Serif_sentence_62

Didone fonts are often considered to be less readable than transitional or old-style serif typefaces. Serif_sentence_63

Period examples include Bodoni, Didot, and Walbaum. Serif_sentence_64

Computer Modern is a popular contemporary example. Serif_sentence_65

The very popular Century is a softened version of the same basic design, with reduced contrast. Serif_sentence_66

Didone typefaces achieved dominance of printing in the early nineteenth-century printing before declining in popularity in the second half of the century and especially in the twentieth as new designs and revivals of old-style faces emerged. Serif_sentence_67

In print, Didone fonts are often used on high-gloss magazine paper for magazines such as Harper's Bazaar, where the paper retains the detail of their high contrast well, and for whose image a crisp, "European" design of type may be considered appropriate. Serif_sentence_68

They are used more often for general-purpose body text, such as book printing, in Europe. Serif_sentence_69

They remain popular in the printing of Greek, as the Didot family were among the first to establish a printing press in newly independent Greece. Serif_sentence_70

The period of Didone types' greatest popularity coincided with the rapid spread of printed posters and commercial ephemera and the arrival of bold type. Serif_sentence_71

As a result, many Didone typefaces are among the earliest designed for "display" use, with an ultra-bold "fat face" style becoming a common sub-genre. Serif_sentence_72

Slab serif Serif_section_5

Main article: Slab serif Serif_sentence_73

Slab serif typefaces date to about 1817. Serif_sentence_74

Originally intended as attention-grabbing designs for posters, they have very thick serifs, which tend to be as thick as the vertical lines themselves. Serif_sentence_75

Slab serif fonts vary considerably: some such as Rockwell have a geometric design with minimal variation in stroke width—they are sometimes described as sans-serif fonts with added serifs. Serif_sentence_76

Others such as those of the "Clarendon" model have a structure more like most other serif fonts, though with larger and more obvious serifs. Serif_sentence_77

These designs may have bracketed serifs that increase width along their length. Serif_sentence_78

Because of the clear, bold nature of the large serifs, slab serif designs are often used for posters and in small print. Serif_sentence_79

Many monospace fonts, on which all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal space as in a typewriter, are slab-serif designs. Serif_sentence_80

While not always purely slab-serif designs, many fonts intended for newspaper use have large slab-like serifs for clearer reading on poor-quality paper. Serif_sentence_81

Many early slab-serif types, being intended for posters, only come in bold styles with the key differentiation being width, and often have no lower-case letters at all. Serif_sentence_82

Examples of slab-serif typefaces include Clarendon, Rockwell, Archer, Courier, Excelsior, TheSerif, and Zilla Slab. Serif_sentence_83

FF Meta Serif and Guardian Egyptian are examples of newspaper and small print-oriented typefaces with some slab-serif characteristics, often most visible in the bold weights. Serif_sentence_84

In the late twentieth century, the term "humanist slab-serif" has been applied to typefaces such as Chaparral, Caecilia and Tisa, with strong serifs but an outline structure with some influence of old-style serif typefaces. Serif_sentence_85

Other styles Serif_section_6

During the nineteenth century, genres of serif type besides conventional body text faces proliferated. Serif_sentence_86

These included "Tuscan" faces, with ornamental, decorative ends to the strokes rather than serifs, and "Latin" or "wedge-serif" faces, with pointed serifs, which were particularly popular in France and other parts of Europe including for signage applications such as business cards or shop fronts. Serif_sentence_87

Well-known typefaces in the "Latin" style include Wide Latin, Copperplate Gothic, Johnston Delf Smith and the more restrained Méridien. Serif_sentence_88

Readability and legibility Serif_section_7

Serifed fonts are widely used for body text because they are considered easier to read than sans-serif fonts in print. Serif_sentence_89

However, scientific study on this topic has been inconclusive. Serif_sentence_90

Colin Wheildon, who conducted scientific studies from 1982 to 1990, found that sans serif fonts created various difficulties for readers that impaired their comprehension. Serif_sentence_91

According to Kathleen Tinkel, studies suggest that "most sans serif typefaces may be slightly less legible than most serif faces, but ... the difference can be offset by careful setting". Serif_sentence_92

Sans-serif are considered to be legible on computer screens. Serif_sentence_93

According to Alex Poole, "we should accept that most reasonably designed typefaces in mainstream use will be equally legible". Serif_sentence_94

A study suggested that serif fonts are more legible on a screen but are not generally preferred to sans serif fonts. Serif_sentence_95

Another study indicated that comprehension times for individual words are slightly faster when written in a sans serif font versus a serif font. Serif_sentence_96

When size of an individual glyph is 9-20 pixels, proportional serifs and some lines of most glyphs of common vector fonts are smaller than individual pixels. Serif_sentence_97

Hinting, spatial anti-aliasing, and subpixel rendering allow to render distinguishable serifs even in this case, but their proportions and appearance are off and thickness is close to many lines of the main glyph, strongly altering appearance of the glyph. Serif_sentence_98

Consequently, it is sometimes advised to use sans-serif fonts for content meant to be displayed on screens, as they scale better for low resolutions. Serif_sentence_99

Indeed, most web pages employ sans-serif type. Serif_sentence_100

Recent introduction of desktop displays with 300+ dpi resolution might eventually make this recommendation obsolete. Serif_sentence_101

As serifs originated in inscription, they are generally not used in handwriting. Serif_sentence_102

A common exception is the printed capital I, where the addition of serifs distinguishes the character from lowercase L. Serif_sentence_103

The printed capital J and the numeral 1 are also often handwritten with serifs. Serif_sentence_104

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