THE NON-DESIGNER'S TYPE BOOK
Well, the Industrial Revolution really got going, and one of the results was
a new field of business: advertising. Until then, of course, there were very
few products to advertise. At first type designers tried to fatten up the thick
strokes of the moderns, but the excessively strong combination of very fat
strokes with very thin strokes made the text almost impossible to read. So
they fattened up the entire letterform.
Slab serif typefaces also have serifs, and the serifs are horizontal, but they're
thick. Fat. Slabs. The strokes that create the letterforms may make a very
slight transition from thick to thin, or there may be no transition at all in
some faces. The stress, when there is any, is vertical. Slab serif typefaces
have a more regimented and strong appearance than do oldstyles.
I'll bet you were wondering why so many slab serif fonts are not named
after their designers. Many of the oldstyle faces are named for their
designers, such as Goudy and Baskerville and Garamond, but many slab
serifs are named with Egyptian references such as Scarab, Memphis, Nile,
and Glypha. It's indirectly because of Napoleon. One of his engineers
found the Rosetta Stone, which turned out to be the key that unlocked the
ancient hieroglyphics. This created a worldwide interest in Egyptian arche¬
ology and a mania for anything Egyptian. Type foundries noticed that if
they named their typeface with an Egyptian reference, it sold better. To
this day this category of type is sometimes called "Egyptian," even though
there is no correlation between the style and the country except a fad. Slab
serifs are also called "Clarendons" because the Clarendon typeface is the
quintessential example of this category, as shown below.
ѴУ JL£LF6IlCLOU Slab serif typefaces
New Century Schoolbook
Candida, Candida Bold
i: CENTURIES OF TYPE
In 1816 William Caslon iv created a "two-line Egyptian" typeface in which
he took off all the serifs because he hated slab serifs. This face was not a big
hit. It wasn't until the Bauhaus school of design was formed in 1919 that
sans serifs (typefaces without serifs; "sans" is French for "without") began
to be popular. Under the Bauhaus motto of "form follows function,"
typefaces were stripped down to their bare essentials, to their simplest,
most functional forms, epitomized in the font Futura. This new school of
design influenced the world.
Sans serifs, of course, have no serifs at all. Also, the strokes that create the
letterforms have almost no visible transition from thick to thin (there are
a very few exceptions, such as the typeface Optima). Sans serifs tend to
have very large x-heights and so present quite a presence on the page.
Futura: form follows function
ГІУСГ VOnQCHSCCI Sans serif typefaces
Formata Trade Gothic