In typography, a sans-serif or sans serif typeface is one that does not have the small features called "serifs" at the end of strokes. The term comes from the Latin word "sine", via the French word sans, meaning "without".
In print, sans-serif fonts are more typically used for headlines than for body text. The conventional wisdom holds that serifs help guide the eye along the lines in large blocks of text. Sans-serifs, however, have acquired considerable acceptance for body text in Europe.
Sans-serif fonts have become the de facto standard for body text on-screen, especially online. This is partly because interlaced displays may show twittering on the fine details of the horizontal serifs. Additionally, the low resolution of digital displays in general can make fine details like serifs disappear or appear too large.
Before the term “sans-serif” became standard in English typography, a number of other terms had been used. One of these outmoded terms for sans serif was gothic, which is still used in East Asian typography and sometimes seen in font names like Century Gothic.
Sans-serif fonts are sometimes, especially in older documents, used as a device for emphasis, due to their typically blacker type color.
Sans-serif letter forms can be found in Latin, Etruscan, and Greek inscriptions, for as early as 5th century BC. The sans serif forms had been used on stoichedon Greek inscriptions.
The first known usage of Etruscan sans-serif foundry types was from Thomas Dempster's De Etruria regali libri VII (1723). Later at about 1745, Caslon foundry made its the first sans-serif types for Etruscan languages, which was used by University Press, Oxford, for pamphlets written by Etruscan scholar John Swinton.
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