In this third part of this series about the various categories of typefaces, we’ll be now featuring the Sans Serif Typefaces. Bizarre and naked, sans serif alphabets joined the ranks of typefaces in the early 19th century.
Even the creator of the first sans serif typeface, William Caslon, was not immediately convinced of the success of this new kind of type and designed only one size (28 point) and this only in capitals. He called it “English Egyptian”.
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 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 showtwittering 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. In Germany the sans serif was called the “Grotesk” right from the beginning, a name which clearly indicated the general feeling toward this new style and is still used today. And another one of these outmoded terms for sans serif is gothic (not Blackletter Gothic), which is still used in East Asian typography and sometimes seen in font names like Century Gothic.
Typefaces within each classification usually share similarities in stroke thickness, weight, and the shapes of certain letterforms. For the purposes of type classification sans-serif designs can broadly be divided into four major groups:
Lineale typefaces with 19th century origins. There is some contrast in thickness of strokes. They have squareness of curve, and curling close-set jaws. The R usually has a curled leg and the G is spurred. The ends of the curved strokes are usually horizontal. Examples include Monotype Grotesque , Akzidenz Grotesk, etc.
Lineale typefaces derived from the grotesque. They have less stroke contrast and are more regular in design. The jaws are more open than in the true grotesque and the g is often open-tailed. The ends of the curved strokes are usually oblique. Examples include Univers, Helvetica, Swiss 721, etc.
Lineale typefaces based on the proportions of inscriptional Roman capitals and Humanist or Garalde lower-case, rather than on early grotesques. They have some stroke contrast, with two-storey a and g. Examples include Optima, Gill Sans, Calibri.
Note: In some sans-serif fonts, such as Arial, the capital-i and lowercase-L appear identical. Verdana, however, keeps them distinct because Verdana’s capital-i, as an exception, has serifs. Other fonts may have two horizontal bars on the capital-i, a curved tail on the lowercase-L, or both.
Free Sans Serif Examples and Downloads
This is where the fun part starts, get the best free Sans Typefaces for free. Also a little bit of information about the font and some credits for the designers. Hope you’ll like my personal choice of best free fonts?
Hattori Hanzo typeface was created for heading and short texts and comes in 2 styles (regular and italic). This gorgeous typeface is designed by Roman Shamin. The name is after Japan’s legendary ninja Hanzo Hattori who appears in countless ninja movies.
Designer: Roman Shamin
HERO free font is applicable for any type of graphic design – web, print, motion graphics etc and perfect for t-shirts and other items like posters, logos. The HERO font comes as an Opentype (.otf) and has 162 Characters (Manual Kerning). It is available for personal and commercial use, see the license for details.
As HERO font, CODE font is designed by Fontfabric. Fontfabric is an independent type foundry , which was launched at the close of 2008 by designer Svetoslav Simov who is based in Sofia, Bulgaria. This typeface comes in 2 styles, namely Regular and Bold and is a beautiful font to use on Tees, Posters and Logos.
Lato is a sans serif typeface family designed in the Summer 2010 by Warsaw-based designer Łukasz Dziedzic. The semi-rounded details of the letters give Lato a warm feel, while the strong structure provides stability and seriousness. Lato consists of five weights (plus corresponding italics), including a beautiful hairline style. The first release includes only the Western character set. In December 2010 the Lato family was published under the open-source Open Font License by his foundry tyPoland, with support from Google.
Designer: Łukasz Dziedzic
Melbourne (personal use only)
Melbourne is a sans-serif with a strong modern presence. The designer’s intention was to create a calm space-saving typeface. The glyphs have rounded corners and relatively large tracking, which makes it a good fit for dictionaries, indexes, catalogues and so on. When used at a large size, Melbourne can be used as a display or headline font. The typeface is released as a draft, and suggestions for improvements are appreciated.
Designer: Marco Müller
This OpenType font family comes in regular, italic, bold and small caps and has some nice OpenType features. Besides ligatures, contextual alternatives, fractions, oldstyle/tabular numerals, Anivers also has a ‘case’ feature for case sensative forms and tabular numerals … so Anivers can crunch numbers with ease.
Designer: Jos Buivinga
Museo Sans (2 Styles)
This OpenType font family offers supports CE languages and even esperanto. Besides ligatures, fractions and proportional/tabular lining and oldstyle figures MUSEO also has a ‘case’ feature for case sensative forms. Museo Sans font family comes in 10 fonts: 5 weights (100 300 500 700 900) with each an italic. 2 fonts are absolutely free (500/500 italic)
Designer(s): Jos Buivinga (Exljbris)
Also designed by Jos Buivenga, Fontin Sans has a nice classical appearance. Fontin Sans is a sans-serif that has its own style – you can pick it out a mile away. A great choice for people who want something different but still legible and usable. I have used this font for the headings of my dribbble-beg-site (BTW: after 23 Hrs I got my dribbble-invitation in my mailbox)
Designer: Jos Buivinga
Calluna Sans is a humanist sans based on Calluna. It has true italics, small caps, lots of ligatures, 4 numeral sets and much, much more. Calluna Sans supports a very wide range in languages and is a very complete OpenType typeface. Each font counts 716 glyphs. Calluna Sans comes in 10 fonts: 5 weights each with an italic. The regular is absolutely free.
Designer: Jos Buivinga
The DejaVu fonts are a font family (8 styles!) based on the Bitstream Vera Fonts (http://gnome.org/fonts/). Its purpose is to provide a wider range of characters while maintaining the original look and feel. A bit more condensed than some of the others here, it has some unique qualities and lots of styles.
Designer: DejaVu Fonts
Eau Sans is designed by Yamaoka Yasuhiro in 1992. Out from the idea of perfectly faceless typeface, Eau; the font has the name of “water” in French. The plan was to design 2 variations of sans serif and a roman serif style, but only Eau Sans was completed. The Eau family isn’t a ground-breaking typeface, but they provide you with a wealth of styles (6 styles) to choose from.
Designer: Yamaoka Yasuhiro
A very legible, beautiful academic typeface that perfectly fits to every corporate identity design, magazines and headlines of corporate web-sites. The typeface is available in various weights: text version, title version, extra-black version and full-version (6 styles).
Designer: Accademia di Belle Arti Urbino
Aller Sans (7 Styles)
Dalton Maag design team designed a beautiful sans-serif Aller Sans, sponsored by Danish publishing company Aller (hence the name). The Aller font family is specially designed for the Danish School of Media and Journalism, developed by the English bureau Dalton Maag Ltd.
Designer(s): Dalton Maag
Advent Pro (7 Styles)
Inde-graphics has made available, free for download, an excellent font called Advent Pro. The download includes 7 font weights for Advent Pro in TrueType Format, and a handy type specimen sheet in PDF format.
Delicious (6 Styles)
The Delicious is a complete font family Jos Buivinga designed because of his admiration for typography. Special attention was given to character spacing to obtain a homogenic appearance. With its relatively large x-height the Delicious can be used for text in smaller point sizes.
Designer(s): Jos Buivinga (Exljbris )
Droid is a font family created by Ascender Corporation for use by the Open Handset Alliance platform Android, intended for use on the small screens of mobile handsets. The fonts were designed by Steve Matteson of Ascender Corporation. The name was derived from the Open Handset Alliance platform name Android. But there is more then just the Sans Typeface, Ascender also designed Droid Sans Mono and Droid Serif.
Designer(s): Steve Matteson
Lacuna (2 Styles)
Lacuna comes in two versions, italic and regular, and a full character set each.
Designer(s): Peter Hoffmann
Puritan 2.0 (4 Styles)
The typeface is available in various weights: regular, italic, bold and bold italic. Incorporation of the OFL license and some modifications to glyph outlines in the Roman font. Version 1.0 was already introduced in 2001.
Designer(s): Ben Weiner
Yanone Kaffeesatz (4 styles)
Yanone Kaffeesatz was first published in 2004 and is reminiscent of 1920’s coffee house typography, while the rather thin fonts bridge the gap to present times.
Designer(s): Jan Gerner AKA Yanone
Inspired by my favorite humanist sans serif typefaces, such as Meta, Myriad, and Scala, Junction is where the best qualities of serif and sans serif typefaces come together. It has the hand drawn and human qualities of a serif, and still retains the clarity and efficiencies of a sans serif typeface. It combines the best of both worlds.
Designer: Caroline Hadilaksono
A very clean and legible sans-serif font that can be used for headings and body copy.
Designer(s): Bigelow & Holmes
Acid was designed by Stephan Baum specifically to be used in logotypes and body copy. The form of glyphs is similar to the design classic B42 by Marcel Breuer (Bauhaus) and has a very geometric character. The font contains 103 glyphs, comes in six weights (regular, regular italic, medium, medium italic, bold and bold italic) and is in the process of being developed. Released under Creative Commons.
Designer: Stephan Baum
 – Read more about the legibility Sans vs. Sans Serif on alexpoole.info
What’s your favorite Sans Serif font, I’ld love to know .. or maybe you have another preferred free sans serif font?