Web fonts focus: What is best, serif or sans-serif?

by fontspace

As designers and font aficionados lets clearly underline the difference between serif and sans-serif. Serifs are the small lines and embellishments that taper off the edges of letters and symbols (think Times New Roman). Sans-serifs are typefaces that do not have these lines, they possess a clear cut, sharp, modern, minimal look. "Sans" comes from an old-French word, derived from Latin, meaning "without." 

We all love some fonts that bare serifs and fonts that don't. They have different uses and stylistic purposes, but our focus here is what is best for web fonts, serif or sans-serif? 

First and foremost, let's talk DPI. Printed matter has a higher DPI potential, generally 1000 dots per inch, while monitors come in at about 100 DPI. Even Apple's "high quality" retina display comes in around 300 dpi, much lower than print, making sans-serif much more suited for the web. Serifs make individual letters easier for our brains to recognize, therefore easier to read and less tiring for our eyes. Sans-serifs are crisper, clearer to read on the screen, therefore easier on the eyes when taking-in on screen text.

Serifs are used to increase contrast and flow between letters which improves identification. Yet, when reduced to very small font sizes on monitors they become harder to recognize. Sans-serif typefaces retain their general shapes very well in small or large sizes due to the simplicity of the symbols, therefore they are more suited to screens and mobile technology copy. 

In conclusion, for the web, use Sans-serif fonts. Try an experiment: while searching through our new crop of free fonts on your mobile phone, jump over to read our blog. You'll find your eyes experiencing less fatigue over time. Contact us to learn which are the more popular sans-serif fonts on our site or ask members of the FORUM for their input. Fresh eyes see more fresh fonts.