Serif and Sans Serif are two of the most common styles of lettering used when working with letters. Before you even begin hand lettering, you will already be familiar with Serif and Sans Serif letters, you just might not know them by name. So what are they and how are they different?
Serif lettering has been around for hundreds and hundreds of years, dating as far back as the Roman era. It is often used in print for books and magazines, and is considered quite a classic style of lettering. A Serif is a little extension, flick or line off of the top and bottom edges of letters. So when lettering has Serifs attached, it’s referred to as Serif lettering.
Sometimes you will also find a Serif on the end points of letters, for example here and here on E and F.
Serifs can be joined to letters using different methods. Sometimes they may be joined using a curve like in the above example, or sometimes just by using a line. Serifs can also very in length and thickness too.
Sans Serif lettering is a little more recent. You now know what a Serif is, Sans means ‘without’, so Sans Serif lettering doesn’t contain Serifs. Sans Serif lettering is often labeled by designers and editors as looking more modern than Serif lettering. However you can definitely get modern looking Serif letters.
Serif and Sans Serif uses
The way you can use Serif and Sans Serif lettering is endless! There are so many ways you can draw Serifs and lettering with Serifs. The same with Sans Serifs, you can create many different styles of lettering. You can combine Serif with Sans Serif in your lettering work. Or use Serif with Serif, or Sans Serif with Sans Serif.
Check out Hand Picked Tales From Aesop’s Fables with Hand Picked Type from Google Fonts for some great examples of how different styles of lettering work together. Admittedly the examples from the Aesop’s Fables don’t contain hand lettering, but they do still give a good idea of partnering Serifs and Sans Serifs.
Try Practicing with Serif and Sans Serif lettering and see what you can create, partner different styles and see what works. Feel free to share your lettering practice on the Lettering Tutorial Facebook page, it would be awesome to see what you come up with.