Serif and Sans Serif Type

San Serif FontWhen type was set in lead the choices were limited.

Years ago when printed pages would usually come off a press, they had lead type. This meant the type was made of lead and the letters were put in drawers. The upper case drawers held the capital letters and the lower case drawers held the small letters. Those terms are still used to this day. That is where upper and lower case letters came from.

Serif type is type that has extensions or feet. Sans serif means it has no serif or no feet. Times type is referred to as a serif type. Arial or Helvetica is sans serif or has no feet.

Years ago the person who set the type was called a type setter. This is a thing of the past but sometimes you will hear a person who types for printing called a type-setter.

The printing industry has made many changes in the years. We have gone from having only about 7 or so choices of type to having literally hundreds of choices today.

They used to teach that Helvetica type was used for headlines and times was used for the body of the articles. Having the "feet" they believed helped guide the eyes across the page.

The computer industry has allowed us to use many more forms of type. We now have decorative, script, handwriting and many more forms. In the beginning however there was only serif and san serif type in upper and lower case made of lead.



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