History of Sans Serif - most used font ever

Typography will rarely miss in the list of complicated subjects, but to gain a better understanding of why we have many fonts and why they are different, you have to start with the history of each. At the beginning of the 20th century, revived typefaces were flooding the space of typography and new font design, known as sans serif was growing in popularity. Sans Serif is a French phrase standing for "without serif". At the time, sans serif was not a completely new idea because people had witnessed the first-ever sans serif at the start of the 19th century. However, they did not see its importance at that time.

The simple idea of casting off the serif at the end of every stroke did not look great to most typographers, particularly those who were experimenting with various sizes and shapes. That might be because traditionally scribes, who used quills could not produce clean cut strokes. Even more, the old typographers knew that serifs help the eyes stick to lines and therefore facilitate easier reading – studies have also confirmed that and it might be the reason for the increase of sans serif fonts free download. 


However, the plain habit of the serif affected the popularity of the sans serif. When the sans serif typography appeared for the first time, it looked controversial and people named it for the first time “grotesque” but they rarely used it in advertisements. Therefore, it stood until the new trends in industrial design and art, notably the Russian constructivism, required better typographic expression means. The movements recommended utilitarian aspects usage in design, claiming that anything that serves practical purposes would be beautiful. There was no need for adorning something artificially. 


The Futura font 

The Futura font, developed in Germany in the year 1928, was the most influential design. The Futura font displayed the Bauhaus ideology for the first time – it was strictly geometric, lacked embellishments, and did not stick to the historic shapes of letters. The resulting geometric consistency and the aesthetic awkwardness might be disputable but it is something new and impressive. Today, people are already accustomed to the appearance of Futura and it is available in many variations. The inborn radicalism of Futura fonts still exists. 


Some people argued that the new sans serif typography would not work without bringing the other serif fonts to the end. That did not happen. Furthermore, the Futura typography style did not turn into the standard sans serif font that people would use on all occasions. Instead, Helvetica (a no-big-deal and no-nonsense font) took a position and it progressed to a position where people were about to misuse or nauseated it. The proliferation of sans serif resulted from the high demand for typefaces that would be usable in the media – the demand as higher than it has ever been at any other time in history. People have been using sans serif font highly for ads, logos, titles and all forms of labels, but it is still usable for body text. 


The development of sans serif typography took a different route to that of the serif development. We have seen serif faces move from liberal and arty Old Style to neutral Transitional designs to rigid and mannered Modern typography. Conversely, the sans serif fonts that started from Futura with artificial looks were dominated by the neutral transitional Helvetica for a long time. More recently, the popularity of several distinctively liberal sans serif faces has increased. The serif humanization in the 20th century is a negation or a mirror image. 


The features of sans serif typography 

The Frutiger design, developed in the year 1976, is among the sans serif designs. It revealed anti-geometric features like uneven width of strokes, non-perpendicular cuts and bent off tips. The purpose of the subtleties was to smoothen out the harsh edges of the generic sans serif designs and to improve the legibility of all characters. The result was warm and friendly-looking typefaces. 


The trends hinted in Frutiger were developed in fonts that are extremely popular in the print and website design. Meta was the first family of the typeface. Erik Spiekermann, a German designer, developed them in the year 1984. Meta and its offspring have strokes of varying width and to compensate for the missing serifs, the designers bent-off the tips of the vertical strokes in the letters “n” and “d”. Both lowercase and uppercase characters are narrower than the sans serif fonts. 


Spiekermann aimed to make an economic font that was readable in various sizes and conditions. The young designers appreciated the rugged charm and it resolved several problems. Today, sans serif font is highly used in print media. However, when printed, the letters stand as individuals and not as words.