Back in the first half of the 20th Century, the Modern era was coming to an end. This was the moment when the flooding of revived typefaces began in the typography mainstream. It was also a time when a different type of font design was starting to boom. This type was called sans serif, which is French for "without serifs."
Though the idea was not new at the time, given that the first sans serif typefaces had first appeared all the way back at the beginning of the 19th Century, this seemingly exotic and peripheral trend rose to so much prominence and importance beginning in the 1920s and 1930s. Sans serif was officially on the comeback trail.
Long before you could download Serif fonts for free on the internet, there was only physical typeface. And when Sans Serif fonts began to rise in prominence once again, there was the argument to do away with serif fonts, which is a trend whenever a new font rises to power. This did not happen, of course, A few sans serif fonts -- Futura and Helvetica in particular -- rose to prominence and took up the banner for the sans serif font typefaces.
The rise of serifs
As for traditional serifs, they were introduced by John Baskerville, who was a prominent English printer as well as a typographer from somewhere around the middle 18th Century. His style was a representation of the modification of those Old Style types as well as neoclassical designs while bringing in some definitive characteristics all its own.
These traditional designs are most recognizable for having those vertical stresses in the lower case letters, and they also have a greater contrast among sub-strokes and those horizontally defined heads. Needless to say, there are a number of different serif fonts out there that have had a comprehensive history behind them. Here are just a handful of those serif fonts.
Modern and Neoclassical Serifs
The modern and neoclassical serifs were born towards the end of the 18th Century at the hand of Italian designer Giambattista Bodoni. He was one of the more prominent figures that relate to this certain style of the typeface. These typefaces generally have more dramatic and abrupt contrast between thick and thin strokes. Each of the strokes is often ball-shaped. This offers a distinct design that has clearly shaped letters.
Each of the modern and neoclassical serifs is more commonly used in things like high-end fashion magazines. This is because they present as elegant, calm, unhurried, and controlled. They also add a level of luxury that might not be common with other types of font. Today, your modern serifs would include things like ITC Fenice, ITC Bodoni, Berthold Walbaum, and Adobe New Caledonia.
In the early part of the 19th Century, these began to gain recognition and popularity, particularly in advertising projects. Those publishing houses were starting to look to get their printed materials noticed more often, so they made the decision to use those typefaces that would grab the reader's attention.
The slab serif family generally is classified by its thick black lines that come at the end of the strokes. Like Clarendon, they can have a curvy appearance or more unbracketed and prominent like Rockwell. Some of the most commonly used slab serifs today include Officina Serif by Spiekermann and Archer from H&FJ. The latter has various weights and also comes set in italics as well. The form is more legible and full-bodied that is ultimately very flexible as well.
Created by Robert Beasley back at the beginning of the 19th Century, it was the first typeface to be patented. Best of all, it is versatile and comes in 5 different weights: heavy, light, bold, black, and roman. It also has a slighter stroke contrast, and it can appear short to the medium its length. There were later designs that had a more obvious, heavier stroke and longer serifs — some of the fonts included in this family such as Nimrod, Bookman, and ITC Charter.
This is a more versatile style of serif font that allows you to get thicker lines for greater readability. It might be a bit more simplistic in nature, but it definitely will get the job done over some more complicated, thinner fonts.