There is one major difference between these two font styles. Serif fonts contain additional decorative elements like simple flourishes at the end of each letter, unlike sans serif fonts. The most common one you may know of is the Times New Roman font.
Sans serif fonts, on the other hand, are clean font types without any major decoration, like the Arial font. Use them to add modern sophistication to any graphic design.
It is important to understand the difference between serif and sans serif fonts because both types play a vital role in the readability of either print or Web-based documents. Serif fonts are letter forms with tails or cross lines at the ends of each letter stroke. Sans-serif fonts do not have these tails – as a result of evolution, they have been removed. Serif fonts usually have more formal look, whereas sans-serif fonts often look bolder and more modern.
For printed documents containing lots of text, serif fonts, such as Times New Roman, are easier to read. This is why newspapers traditionally use serif fonts for their copy. For screen based text, like that on a Web site, sans serif fonts are recommended, such as Arial, Helvetica or Verdana. This is especially true when working with type sizes that are less than 12 points (little tails of certain serif fonts get lost when the text is viewed on a lighted screen).
Most of the designers like to use a combination of serif and sans serif fonts in their designs, and stick with just two or three font families or typefaces (any more that that gets distracting). For web page designers, for example, you might use a serif font family for the topic headings and a sans-serif font family for the body copy (main text areas). On the other hand, in a print media format, a sans serif font is used for the title while a serif font is used for secondary information like content, address, paragraph extra.
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