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The different types of fonts. Serif, Sans-Serif and the others

Discover the different font families and categories.


Serif, Sans-Serif, Mono, with or without serifs, it is difficult to find your way around so many types of fonts. Discover the differences and their uses.

Font definition

We speak of typeface or font family to define a collection of characters. A typeface can group together different fonts, which defines the particularity of style, size and thickness.

Segoe UI is a typeface, and Segoe UI Light is a font.

segoe ui complete family fonts

The different types of fonts

Websites or typographers classify fonts into many categories, but common usage allows us to narrow them down to five.

Serif (with serif)

We find them mainly in publishing and printing: magazines, newspapers and books use serifs. Called serifs, they are the small horizontal lines or triangular thickenings present on the edges of the letters(terminals).

Serif fonts are often associated with serious, rigorous, or high-end positioning and are not limited to print. Many famous luxury brands choose them for their logos, advertising campaigns and websites because of their classic and sophisticated look (Dior, Vogue, Gucci, Prada, Tiffany & Co, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz). Serif fonts create a sense of authority and trustworthiness, and are also a great option for legal, insurance and publishing companies (McKinsey, BCG, The New York Times, Forbes, or Washington Post).

Playfair Display

Sans-Serif (without serif)

These are more modern and widespread variants which, as their name suggests, have done away with the traditional serifs. They appeared in the middle of the 19th century and became particularly popular at the beginning of the last century for their novelty and dynamism. A little later, Futura and Helvetica were created, belonging to the most widely used subcategory of Grotesques.

Because of their ability to get noticed and get attention, these fonts were first used primarily in advertisements and headlines. It became apparent that after the advent of the computer age, grotesque characters were easier to read on the screen. Today, we see them absolutely everywhere, starting from websites and applications to banners and logos. Unlike Serifs, Sans-Serifs create a more informal and affordable image.

Widely used by major tech companies (Facebook, Google, Netflix, Airbnb, Spotify, Uber), these are solid choices and many visual identities adopt these font families which have the advantage of being readable, adapted to the user interface and offering a very good level of accessibility.



Traditional fonts use a different space for each character in order to nest them and create harmony when reading, which is called Kerning. Monospaced fonts have the particularity of using a regular width for each letter. Widely adopted by developers, text editors, or even present on our passports to facilitate their reading by OCRs (optical character recognition).

space mono
DM Mono
roboto mono


Cursive fonts mimic handwriting, and tend to give legitimacy to a message. Better suited for headlines and annotations, they offer little accessibility but give personality to content.

They are divided into two categories: formal and informal. In the first case, they are elegant letters with monograms, which resemble the writing style of the 17-18th centuries (they are suitable for the design of invitations, albums, book covers, diplomas, menus). In the second case, they are imitations of modern writing of all kinds (these are suitable for websites, social networks, marketing materials, posters). The main thing is to integrate them competently into the context of the concrete activity or message.

rock salt
dancing script

Display / Decorative

Display fonts are often thick, impactful, and eye-catching. Only reserved for titles and important messages, this category gives rise to many creative and differentiating fonts, even complex ones.

Like writing fonts, decorative fonts should be used to accentuate a headline, advertisement, sign, logo, but not for the main text. They can also be used for creative projects.

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Where can I find nice fonts for my PowerPoint presentations?

You can check our article on our top 10 fonts for your presentations.

You will also find many on these 3 sources: