Typography 101

When working in stationery, it never hurts to have a love of graphic design and a basic knowledge of typography. At Dempsey & Carroll, we’re all a little bit obsessed with type, and we love it when customers want to explore interesting options and typestyles.

One of the most basic distinctions between different styles of type is whether it’s a serif typestyle or a sans serif typestyle.

A serif is one of the little details at the end of the line (or stroke) in a particular letter. They help make a character a little more recognizable, making a body of text easier to read. For this reason, most printed materials with lots of type are formatted in a serif typestyle—think books and newspaper copy.

Sans is the French word for “without”, therefore a sans serif typestyle is a typestyle without any serifs. These typestyles can be slightly harder to read in a large block of text, but they are good for making a bold, graphic impression. Sans serif typestyles often appear in advertising or headlines.


Serif typestyles are generally viewed as classic and traditional. Sans serifs tend to be a bit more modern and sleek. Dempsey & Carroll offers a range of both styles. Some of our favorite serif typestyles are Engravure, Bernhard Modern and Antique Roman. Popular sans serifs include Gothic Medium, Futura and Gill Sans.


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