THE NON-DESIGNER'S TYPE BOOK
Sans serif faces have no serifs, and almost all sans serifs have monoweight
strokes (no thick/thin contrast at all). The absence of serifs and the mono-
weight strokes make sans serifs slightly less readable than oldstyles, but
because they have such clearly defined letterforms without the addition of
little diddlies like serifs, this style is actually more legible than serif faces in
short bursts of text.
You probably need no review on what defines a typeface as script, decoratiue,
or fringe—they're pretty self-explanatory.
And do you also remember reading about readability and legibility? The more
distinctive features, the less readable it is, the less suitable for long blocks of
text. The oldstyle category and the light weights of slab serifs are the most
"invisible" and subsequently the most readable. Sans serifs tend to be more
legible because they have clean, straightforward letterforms.
Questions about your project
To narrow the choices of faces for a project, here are questions to ask your¬
self. The questions are not ranked in order of importance—each one is a
critical consideration. Consider these three options together:
What is your output printer resolution:
Low (72-144 dots per inch),
Medium (300-600 dpi), or
High-resolution imagesetter (1270-2540 dpi)?
Are you going straight through a fax machine
(consider it low resolution)?
Ulihat will be the final reproduction method:
Copy machine, quick press, high-quality press?
On what kind of paper will you be reproducing the project:
Newsprint, cheap bond, textured stock, glossy stock, fax paper?
31: CHOOSING A TYPEFACE
The common thread between these questions is quality—the quality of the
type itself that comes out of the printer, the quality of the reproduction
method, and the quality of the paper. If each of these variables is on the
high end, then you can use any typeface you choose as far as technical re¬
production is concerned. If any of these variables is on the low end (or on
textured paper, even though it's high quality), you need to be more selec¬
tive to make sure your type will reproduce well.
Less than very high quality
* Type from a lower resolution printer cannot retain subtle design
characteristics, such as very fine lines or delicate serifs.
* A copy machine or a fax machine also loses some of the
fine details in the reproduction process.
* Inexpensive paper, especially newsprint, absorbs ink and loses
even more, sometimes to the point of filling in the counters
(those spaces inside letters like e or d).
For any of the poorer conditions, choose a typeface that has sturdy serifs,
no fine lines, and a larger x-height with open counters, such as those shown
below. Most sans serifs will hold up very well under any conditions. Also
look through font catalogs for typefaces with these characteristics.
Clarendon Plain or Clarendon Light
New Century Schoolbook
All of these faces have solid strokes and serifs that
will not fall apart under difficult printing conditions.