How to combine serif and sans serif fonts

Serif fonts

Serif fonts are the traditional-looking fonts used in high-resolution printed media such as newspapers and books. Research in the mid-twentieth century found that serif fonts were easier to read due to the serifs on the bottom of the letters that draw the eye.

The following serif fonts work well for body text although they aren’t often used for online text:

  • Times New Roman/Times: For text-heavy pages
  • Georgia: designed to be read directly from the screen. Looks bulky when printed on paper
  • Lucida Bright

Sans serif fonts

Most websites and brochures use sans-serif fonts. People prefer sans-serif fonts for the web because they are familiar and less old-fashioned than serif. Studies also found that sans serif fonts do not have a lower legibility than serif fonts. Sans-serif are simpler and need less pixels to display their details than serifs.

The following sans serif fonts work well at small sizes and for headings, as they are easily readable from a distance:

  • Verdana
  • Arial: is a Windows font. Mac users will see Helvetica.
  • Trebuchet
  • Helvetica: is an Apple Macintosh font. Windows user will use Arial.
  • Lucida Grande

Font availability

You will never know exactly how the fonts will look on the reader’s screen. If the font you use is not on the users’ machine the browser will display the user-specific default font. Helvetica for example is not installed on the Windows operating system. Windows users will see the Arial font.

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