Out of all the fonts that we have to choose from on a regular basis, did you know that most of them can be broken down into two general categories. Those categories are “Serif” and “Sans-serif,” and the difference between the two is very simple: One has decorative “feet” while the other doesn’t.

Which one is which? Well, “sans” is a French word that means without, so “sans-seif” means without the curls or small appendixes (feet) that we find at the end of each letter. The image below will show this for you:

Serif sans font

Notice the “feet” on the serif font? It is generally believed that Serif fonts make it easier for a reader’s eye to follow the text, particularly when the font needs to be small like in a magazine, newspaper, or book. It is said to draw the eye across the page much easier. So when are Sans-serif fonts used? Most websites use a sans-serif font because it’s generally easier to read these fonts on a screen.

Sans-serif examples: Arial, Verdana, Tahoma

Serif examples: Times New Roman, Garamound, Century Schoolbook

The next time that you need to select a font, you may want to consider what it will be used for. Are you writing a paper that you’ll print out and give to someone to read? If so, you may want to use a serif font. Are you sending an email or writing a blog entry? If so, you may want to consider using a sans-serif font so that it will be easier for the reader to read. Generally speaking, I tend to use sans-serif fonts because it always seems cleaner and easier to read. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with a few “favorite” fonts that I use most often. My top three are Arial, Calibri, and Comic Sans MS, what are yours?