Typeface classification for letterforms without serifs / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In typography and lettering, a sans-serif, sans serif, gothic, or simply sans letterform is one that does not have extending features called "serifs" at the end of strokes.[1] Sans-serif typefaces tend to have less stroke width variation than serif typefaces. They are often used to convey simplicity and modernity or minimalism. For the purposes of type classification, sans-serif designs are usually divided into these major groups: § Grotesque and § Neo-grotesque, § Geometric, § Humanist and § Other or mixed.

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Serif_and_sans-serif_01.svg Sans-serif typeface
Serif_and_sans-serif_02.svg Serif typeface
Serif_and_sans-serif_03.svg Serifs
(coloured in red)
From left to right: a Ming serif typeface with serifs in red, a Ming serif typeface and an East Asian gothic sans-serif typeface

Sans-serif typefaces have become the most prevalent for display of text on computer screens. On lower-resolution digital displays, fine details like serifs may disappear or appear too large. The term comes from the French word sans, meaning "without" and "serif" of uncertain origin, possibly from the Dutch word schreef meaning "line" or pen-stroke.[2] In printed media, they are more commonly used for display use and less for body text.

Before the term "sans-serif" became standard in English typography, a number of other terms had been used. One of these terms for sans-serif was "grotesque", often used in Europe, and "gothic", which is still used in East Asian typography and sometimes seen in typeface names like News Gothic, Highway Gothic, Franklin Gothic or Trade Gothic.

Sans-serif typefaces are sometimes, especially in older documents, used as a device for emphasis, due to their typically blacker type color.