Five Font Families

There are five general grouping of fonts you will need to become familiar with for this class. We will go over these a few times this semester.

Old Style: Garamond
(15th-17th century)

  • designed in France in 1615 by Jean Jannon (Claude Garamond was given credit originally)
  • designed in a time when inks and paper were coarse and type technology was still rather rough
  • relatively thick strokes and heavily bracketed or curved serifs
  • emulated classical calligraphy

Transitional: Baskerville
(mid 18th century)

  • designed in England in 1757 by John Baskerville
  • designed in a time when inks and paper were considerably smoother and type technology was refined
  • increased contrast between thick and thin strokes and the serifs are more sculpted
  • sharper serifs and more vertical axis


Modern: Bodoni
(late 18th century)

  • designed in Italy in 1788 by Giambattista Bodoni
  • designed in a time when printing technology was refined by leaps and bounds
  • extreme contrast between stokes and hairlines
  • brackets virtually eliminated


Egyptian or Slab Serif:
Century Expanded
(19th century)

  • designed in the United States in 1894 by Linn Boyd Benton
  • type design, freed from technical constraints, became eclectic
  • characterized by heavy serifs
  • very little contrast between thin and thick strokes


Sans Serif: Helvetica
(19th-20th century)

  • designed in Switzerland in 1957 by Max Miedinger and Eduard Hoffman
  • sans serif fonts were usually considered too hard to read as text, but the Swiss refined this face until it became quite balanced and legible

This list is an introductory one, and as such is not comprehensive. If you want a more in-depth set of font classifications, read about them here.

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