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Typeface classifications and how to use them

October 31, 2016

What a typeface says about your brand

What a typeface can say about your brand. You might not pay much attention to this in everyday life but each typeface has a unique character. Take a look at the different typeface classifications in this post to find out what each of the typefaces stands for | thatistheday.com

Font psychology: Therapy session I

You might not pay much attention to this in everyday life but each typeface, you come across,  has a unique character. As with people you can make conclusions about their character by looking at their clothes or the way they talk. By choosing a typeface in which you display your text, you’re also choosing how you want your message to be received. The typeface can tell the reader “This is very important information” or “Our products are for kids”. Take a look at the different typeface classifications in this post to find out what each of the typefaces stands for.

Fonts turn words into stories. -Sarah Hyndman

Which typeface can tell your brand story

In regard to your branding, you have to see this as a huge advantage. Your chosen typeface can attract exactly the right customer for you and it can tell them what kind of business you are and what kind of values you have. Investing some time in the search for the right typeface can really pay off and give your brand a special touch. Look at the tiny details of a typeface and let yourself be inspired by the meaning they can transport.

Typeface classifications

Before we talk about the different attributes of typefaces, we have to look at typeface classifications. Every typeface can be put in one of the following six categories: serif, sans serif, slab serif, modern, script or display. Each of these categories/ classifications will transport different emotions to your customers because their style or character lets people make associations about the story it tells.


Serif typefaces like Times New Roman or Garamond have their origin in the Latin alphabet. They are the most classic typefaces you can find and our eyes are trained to look at them because they are so broadly used. Find out more: 10 classic fonts you should know

Attributes associated with serif typefaces:

  • traditional
  • reliable
  • serious
  • credible

Sans serif

Whereas sans serif typefaces, like Helvetica or Arial, have a more contemporary look. They have clean cuts. Nothing is distracting the eye from what is important.

Character traits of sans serif typefaces:

  • modern
  • clean
  • stable
  • forward-thinking
  • sensible

Slab serif

These typefaces really stand out with their bold letters but they are still relying on traditional attributes. Popular slab-serif typefaces are Rockwell or Clarendon.

Slab serif typefaces are:

  • bold
  • solid
  • strong
  • authentic


Modern typefaces like Bodoni or Didot are a great choice if you’re looking for something that’s both traditional and modern at the same time. These typefaces were created in the 18th century as a result of changes to printing methods. They combine thin serifs with bold basic letters.

Modern typeface attributes:

  • stylish
  • sharp
  • smart
  • approachable


Display typefaces like Cooper Black and Playfair Display have become very popular in recent years. The vintage charm derives from their old typewriter effect.

Display typefaces are:

  • friendly
  • unique
  • vintage
  • expressive


Script typefaces can transport a lot of different meanings but mostly they are more feminine than other typefaces and add a kind of personal touch to your brand. Popular script typefaces are Brush Script, Mistral, and Dancing Script.

Character traits of script typefaces:

  • feminine
  • elegant
  • creative
  • affectionate
  • fancy

Did you find out what kind of typeface your business is? You can also combine two fonts of different typeface classes to reach the effect you have in mind. Go check out this post: How to find the right font combinations

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