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Classic Serif Fonts Give Your Print Projects a Timeless Beauty and Legibility

These serif fonts are designer favorites

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If you want to be sure your font collection includes the most legible and readable, tried and true typefaces for text, you can't go wrong with the selection of serif fonts presented here. While this is only the tip of the iceberg, these classic serif fonts are versatile and reliable standards. These classics include many of the Garalde Old Style of serif, plus some Transitional and Modern serifs, 

Within each grouping are many varieties and renditions, some more suitable than others for body copy. Because few designers can agree on which is best, this list is presented in alphabetical order. When searching sites (such as Monotype's fonts.com or MyFonts.com) you'll find many variations of these basic serif typefaces, often with similarly named sans serif, open face or chiseled display styles, and other companion faces. Not every version is suitable for body copy, headlines, captions, Web pages, etc. however, members of the same family are typically designed to work well together.

 

Baskerville

Baskerville Com Regular; Fonts.com
Baskerville Com Regular; Fonts.com

A classic dating from the 1750s, the many variations of Baskerville and New Baskerville serif fonts work quite well for both text and display use. It is classified as a Transitional or Neoclassical serif style.

Bodoni

Bodoni Classic Roman; Fonts.com
Bodoni Classic Roman; Fonts.com

A classic text face styled after the work of Giambattista Bodini. Some Bodoni font versions are, perhaps, too heavy or carry too much contrast in thick and thin strokes for body text but work very well as a display face. The specific style is classified as Modern or Didone.

Caslon

LTC Caslon Regular; Fonts.com
LTC Caslon Regular; Fonts.com

Benjamin Franklin chose Caslon for the first printing of the American Declaration of Independence. Fonts based on the typefaces of William Caslon are good, readable choices for text.

Century

Monotype Century Schoolbook Pro; Fonts.com
Monotype Century Schoolbook Pro; Fonts.com

The best known of this family is probably New Century Schoolbook. All the Century faces are considered highly legible serif fonts, suitable not only for children's textbooks but for magazines and other publications as well.

Garamond

ITC Garamond Family; Fonts.com
ITC Garamond Family; Fonts.com

Typefaces bearing the Garamond name are not always based on the designs of Claude Garamond; however, these serif fonts share certain characteristics of timeless beauty and readability. Garamond is an example of the Garalde Old Style of serif.

Goudy

Goudy Family; Fonts.com
Goudy Family; Fonts.com

This popular serif typeface from Frederic W. Goudy has evolved over the years to include many weights and variations. Goudy Old Style, as its name suggests, is an example of the Garalde Old Style of serif.

Palatino

Palatino Family; Fonts.com
Palatino Family; Fonts.com
A widely-used serif font for both body text and display type, it was designed originally by Hermann Zapf. Part of its widespread use may stem from its inclusion — along with Helvetica and Times — with the Mac OS. Palatino is also another example of the Garalde Old Style of serif typefaces.

Sabon

Sabon Family; Fonts.com
Sabon Family; Fonts.com
Designed in the 1960s by Jan Tschichold, this serif font is based on Garamond types. Those commissioning the font design specified that it should be "suitable for all printing purposes" — and it is. As are many other classics in this list, Sabon is an example of the Garalde Old Style of serif.

Stone Serif

ITC Stone Serif; Fonts.com
ITC Stone Serif; Fonts.com

A relatively "young" design from the late 1980s, the whole Stone family with its coordinated serif, sans serif, and informal families work well for mixing and matching styles. The serif version is classified as a Transitional style, along with older fonts of this style that first appeared in the 17th century.

Times

Times Family; Fonts.com
Times Family; Fonts.com

Possibly overused but a good basic serif font nonetheless. Originally designed for newspaper use, Times, Times New Roman, and other variations of this Old Style/Transitional serif are designed to be easily readable and legible as body text — a neutral font.

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