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Free Fonts: Serif Typefaces

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In this second part of this serie about the various categories of typefaces, we’ll be now featuring the Serif Typefaces. This is probably one of the biggest category in typefaces, but for sure it’s the oldest category of moveable types[1].

In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface that has serifs is called a serif typeface (or seriffed typeface). Serifs are thought to have originated in the Roman alphabet with inscriptional lettering—words carved into stone in Roman antiquity.

The Origin of the Serif is now broadly but not universally accepted: the Roman letter outlines were first painted onto stone, and the stone carvers followed the brush marks which flared at stroke ends and corners, creating serifs [resource: wikipedia].

The coming 2 Wednesdays there will be NO main article on the gonzoblog.nl because of the christmas holidays ~ Of course the Tweet-Parade will be published every Saturday, also during the holidays.

Merry X-mas and a Happy 2011!

In traditional printing serifed fonts are used for body text because they are considered easier to read than sans-serif[2] fonts for this purpose. But, there are plenty of studies that show no difference between the legibility of serif and sans serif typefaces. Serifed fonts are the overwhelming typeface choice for lengthy text printed in books, newspapers and magazines. While in print serifed fonts are considered more readable, sans-serif are widely considered more legible on computer screens, even though there is no evidence to support this opinion.

Serif fonts can be broadly classified into one of four subgroups:

Old Style

Old style typefaces date back to 1465, and are characterized by a diagonal angled stress (the thinnest parts of letters are at an angle rather than at the top and bottom), subtle differences between thick and thin lines (low stroke contrast), and excellent readability. Old style typefaces are reminiscent of the humanist calligraphy from which their forms were derived. Old style faces are sub-divided into Venetian (or Humanist) and Garalde (or Aldine).

Transitional

Transitional (or baroque, Dutch Old Style) serif typefaces first appeared in the mid-18th century. They are among the most common, including such widespread typefaces as Times New Roman (1932) and Baskerville (1757). They are in between modern and old style, thus the name “transitional.” Differences between thick and thin lines are more pronounced than they are in old style, but they are still less dramatic than they are in modern serif fonts.

Modern

Modern or Didone serif typefaces, which first emerged in the late 18th century, are characterized by extreme contrast between thick and thin lines. Modern typefaces have a vertical stress, long and fine serifs, with minimal brackets. Serifs tend to be very thin and vertical lines are very heavy. Most modern fonts are less readable than transitional or old style serif typefaces.

Slab serif

Slab serif or Egyptian typefaces usually have little if any contrast between thick and thin lines. Serifs tend to be as thick as the vertical lines themselves and usually have no bracket. Slab serif fonts have a bold, rectangular appearance and sometimes have fixed widths, meaning that all characters occupy the same amount of horizontal space (as in a typewriter). More information and examples in our previous article from this serie: Free Fonts: Slab Serif Typefaces

Free Serifs to Download

Yep, this is what we were waiting for .. FREE FONTS! A lot of these fonts are @font-face compatible, so you can use them also as web-fonts, making some of these typefaces suitable to use in a corporate identity design.

Droid Serif

Droid Serif (4 styles) is a font family created by Ascender Corporation for use by the Open Handset Alliance platform, Android. Masculine & classy, Droid Serif is a great choice. Lots of styles available, great legibility and styling.

Designer: Ascender Corporation

Download

Georgia

Georgia is designed in 1993 by Matthew Carter and hinted by Tom Rickner for the Microsoft Corporation. Georgia is designed for clarity on a computer monitor even at small sizes, partially effective due to a large x-height. Georgia was part of Microsoft’s core fonts for the Web package and is preinstalled by default on Apple Macintosh and Windows-based computers. It has found popular use as an alternative serif typeface to Times New Roman.

Designer: Matthew Carter

Download

Calluna

Calluna was initially a by-product of the design process leading up to Jos Buivenga’s popular Museo typeface. Calluna was the designer’s first serifed text family — a robust, clean and contemporary face with interesting details and a forward flow, it works perfectly even at small point sizes; thanks to its striking details it also acts as a display typeface with personality.

Designer: Jos Buivinga

Download (The regular is absolutely free).

Gentium

Gentium is a typeface family designed to enable the diverse ethnic groups around the world who use the Latin and Greek scripts to produce readable, high-quality publications. It supports a wide range of Latin-based alphabets and includes glyphs that correspond to all the Latin ranges of Unicode.

Designer(s): Victor Gaultney

Download

Liberation Serif

The Liberation Fonts are intended to be replacements for the three most commonly used fonts on Microsoft systems: Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier New. The Serif set (a substitute for Times New Roman) comes in 4 styles and can be used on screen as well on paper.

Designer(s): Red Hat

Download

Lido STF

This type is designed as a modification of the existing Times used in Lidové Noviny newspaper. The assignment was to design a typeface which would enable “a smooth flow of information in the reader’s eye”, therefore a typeface without any artistic ambitions, from which everything which obstructs legibility would be eliminated.

Designer: František Štorm

Download

Bitstream Vera Serif

Bitstream Inc. was founded in 1981 as the world’s first independent digital type foundry, the first company to make fonts for new industry of digital typesetting.

Designers: Bitstream

Download

DejaVu Serif

Based on Bitstream Vera Serif, DejaVu Serif is an open-source typeface commonly included on Linux systems. It shares design elements with DejaVu Sans and DejaVu Sans Mono.

Designer(s): Bitstream

Download

Dustismo Roman

Roman (serif) typeface, contains more characters then you will ever use (over 470), contains italic, bold, and bold italic faces.

Designer: Dustin Norlander

Download

Oxford

Roger White is a quite prolific author of fonts for use on computers. Hinting and Kerning pairs have been added in order to deliver a high quality to the end user. All fonts are available in both Truetype and Postscript Type 1 versions.

Designer: Roger White

Download

Portland LDO

Portland LDO is a serifed typeface based on Palatino, but slightly thinner with low descenders, a reworked “A”, and new metrics and kerning. This face should please both traditionalists and modernists who demand a serifed typeface with both a classical and a modern feel.

Designer: Luke Owens

Download

Luxi Serif

This type is designed by Kris Holmes & Bigelow in 2001, there’s not much to say about Luxi Serif except that Typekit and font-face are supporting this typeface. Oh, .. and it comes in 4 beautiful styles with loads of characters!

Designers: Kris Holmes & Charles Bigelow

Download

Goudy Bookletter 1911

Based on Frederic Goudy’s Kennerley Oldstyle. Kennerley fits together tightly and evenly with almost no kerning, composed into words the characters appear to lock into one another with a closeness common in early types. These are letters that take command of the space around them.

Designer: Barry Schwartz

Download

Crimson Text

Crimson Text is a font family for book production in the tradition of beautiful oldstyle typefaces. There are a lot of great free fonts around, but one kind is missing: those Garamond-inspired types with all the little niceties like oldstyle figures, small caps, fleurons, math characters and the like (remark of the designer: the spacing/kerning is abysmal. If you use it in public these days, you’ll likely embarass yourself).

Designer: Sebastian Kosch

Download

Espinosa Nova

Espinosa Nova is a revival based on the types used by Antonio de Espinosa, the most important Mexican printer of the sixteenth century and very probably the first punchcutter anywhere in the American continent (1551). All of the fonts intended for setting text include small caps, five sets of figures (old-style and lining, both proportional and tabular, plus tabular small caps).

Designer: Cristóbal Henestrosa

Download (registration is required)

Neuton Regular

Brian M. Zick (b. 1991, Pennsylvania) came upon the type scene in 2010 with a bang—a clean Times-Roman-like typeface called Neuton. This typeface will be the basis of a type family. Also available in the Google Font Directory.

Designer: Brian Zick

Download

Prociono

“Prociono” (pro-tsee-O-no) is an Esperanto word meaning either the star Procyon or the animal species known as the raccoon. It is a roman with blackletter elements.

Designer: Barry Schwartz

Download

Vollkorn Family

It intends to be a quiet, modest and well working text face for bread and butter use. Unlike its examples in the book faces from the renaissance until today, it has dark and meaty serifs and a bouncing and healthy look. It might be used as body type as well as for headlines or titles. »Vollkorn« (pronounced »Follkorn«) is German for »wholemeal« which refers to the old term »Brotschrift«. It stood for the small fonts for every day use in hand setting times.

Designer: Friedrich Althausen

Download

Communist Serif

And last but not least, the font Communist (Serif ), designed by shamrock in 1993. Communist comes in 4 weights, this is the font that I use in the gonzoblog .. so take a good look around to get the feel of this type! Communist also has a sans-serif in the download-package, but I truelly love the serif, .. very cool!

Designer: shamrock

Download

Footnotes:

[1] – Movable type is the system of printing and typography that uses movable components to reproduce the elements of a document (usually individual letters or punctuation).

[2] – Sans Serif Typefaces are typefaces do not have the characteristic small finishing strokes (serifs) on the end of a character. ‘Sans’ means in French: without

– § –

What’s your favorite Serif font, I’ld love to know .. or maybe you have another preferred free serif font?

 

Author: Jan Rajtoral

Jan Rajtoral AKA Gonzo the Great is the Founder of and Designer at gonzodesign, providing design services across the full spectrum of Brand Identity, Graphic Design, Print and Advertising Design & Website Design.

18 comments

on this article: “Free Fonts: Serif Typefaces”
  1. This is a fun look into serif fonts! Thank you.

    • Hi Brett,

      sorry for my late reply, it was a really busy week with loads of client work, .. so you’re NOT hearing me complain! Thanks for your comment and it’s also fun to play with serifs!

      Thanks for your visit, smell ya next time on foursquare! Cheers & Ciao ..

  2. Hi Santo,

    thanks for your comment, next wednesday there will be a new article about free fonts (probably the script typefaces?)

    Cheers & Ciao ..

  3. Hi JPop,

    Thanks for your comment, and yes, I think the history and credits for the designer(s) is just that extra info that makes it an interesting read (well, I hope so ;-P)

    Cheers & Ciao ..

  4. Great article about Serif Typefaces! It’s really interesting to know the origin & history of all that great free fonts :D
    .-= JPop´s last blog ..Fairy Tail Opening 2 – SOW by Idoling =-.

  5. Hi Brian,

    What an honor! Thanks for letting my readers (and me of course) know that there is a revised version.

    I’ll change the link in the article, then I’ll be the first ;-P

    I hope you can keep me posted when the second cursive, the bold and small-cap versions are live! Would appreciate that and I can update the download-links in the article.

    Thanks for your comment and good luck with the design of the other variations of Neuton! I love your typeface and can’t wait for more weights/styles.

    Cheers & Ciao ..

  6. Howdy! This is the designer of Neuton. :) Thanks for featuring my serif font. Just to let you know, there is also a revised version of the regular, and an italic available: http://www.fontspace.com/21326/neuton

    As far as I know, the Font Directory and On Snot and Fonts hasn’t updated yet. They should soon. There will also be a second “cursive” italic available relatively soon, as well as bolds and smallcaps. :)

  7. Hi Peder,

    thanks man! I always try to give some extra information about the topic, or in this case the origin of serif typefaces and some extra info about the (free) fonts.

    It’s so easy to just put in 20 links and pictures of typefaces, with no background information what-so-ever!

    Thanks for visiting, Cheers & Ciao ..

    Merry Christmas and a creative 2011 to you, my dear friend!

  8. Hi Joel,

    Thank you for your comment, much appreciated.

    The typefaces mentioned above are my favorite free serifs, but Goudy’s Bookletter is especially beautiful because the characters seem to lock into each other .. something only seen in the typefaces of the (Dutch) Old Style.

    Furthermore I love the serifs on the ‘u’, ‘z’ and ‘d'(lowercase), just plain unique for this type! Another benefit is that this typeface is an open type with some standard ligatures and characters.

    Bad thing, it only comes in one weight/style – regular, man, I really do miss the italic version!

    In the article of last week, I share my favorite Slab-Serifs (and also some downloadable fonts!). Thanks for visiting the gonzoblog.nl and hope to see you a next time!

    Cheers & Ciao ..

    BTW: very interesting blog you have, TheBookDesigner.com, I’ll visit and read some articles in the coming days ;-P

  9. Jan, a very nice roundup and instruction in basic typography, thanks for that. Especially interested to see Goudy Bookletter, as Kennerly was a favorite of mine when setting metal type. Going to download it now, and see if I can find a book to use it in.
    .-= Joel Friedlander´s last blog ..New- Self-Publisher’s Quick &amp Easy Guides =-.