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5 Different Fonts Styles and How to Use Them

5 Different Fonts Styles and How to Use Them main article image
Posted on September 9, 2021 by Zeldi Smulders

Why learn about 5 different fonts styles and how you can use them? Because fonts form an essential part of a design, whether you use them on a small logo or a big editorial piece. Many people only know of a few dependable types and use them on repeat, without realising that choosing the right font can give your project the edge it needs. In this beginner’s guide, you will learn more about some popular font types and see a few examples of them. With that, you will find out how to use them and what role they play in different situations.

5 Different Types Of Fonts and How to Use Them: Typeface Guide!

The thirst thing you need to know for this guide is that fonts can be categorized according to their typeface. In this typeface guide, you will learn about these 5 types of font styles:

  1. Serif fonts
  2. Sans Serif fonts
  3. Slab Serif fonts
  4. Script fonts
  5. Decorative fonts

All in all, these groups are the major ones you need to become aware of together with the type classification which will also be included. After you have learned more about the different types of fonts or font styles, you will be rewarded with free fonts that fall under these 5 font type styles. Whatever your preference, you will surely find your type today!

Table of Contents

Clarifying the Basics of Fonts

The 5 Different Font Styles

  1. Serif Fonts
  • What Is a Serif Font?
  • Serif Fonts Examples
  • How to Use Serif Fonts
  1. Slab Serif Fonts
  • What Is a Slab Serif Font?
  • Sans Slab Fonts Examples
  • How to Use Slab Serif Fonts
  1. Sans Serif Fonts
  • What Is a Sans Serif Font?
  • Sans Serif Fonts Examples
  • How to Use Sans Serif Fonts
  1. Script Fonts
  • What Is a Script Font?
  • Scrip Fonts Examples
  • How to Use Script Fonts
  1. Decorative Fonts
  • What Is a Decorative Font?
  • Decorative Fonts Examples
  • How to Use Decorative Fonts

Free Fonts of the 5 Different Font Styles

Clarifying the Basics of Fonts

Starting in the 18th century, a lot of things were happening in the world of typefaces and fonts, and this continued to progress throughout the 19th century and the 20th century. With each time period, certain trends came about and much of it revolved around the purpose of the font or where it was being used. Even now, new fonts are being created almost every day.

What’s important to note before proceeding is that the collection of characters and symbols is called a typeface, whereas the font conventionally refers to a set within the typeface group that has its own distinctive appearance. The type of font is determined by looking at the thickness (or weight), height, as well as the shape of the letterforms. Most fonts can be categorised into four larger groups, namely serif, sans serif, script and decorative.

The 5 Different Font Styles

1. Serif Fonts 

What Is a Serif Font?

The serif fonts type is thought to be the most traditional. Going by the name of serifs, this font type is characterized by the little feet that can usually be seen at the top and bottom ends of every letterform. These extra strokes are typically an extension of the main stroke of each letter.

The serif font group also encompasses the following categories:

  • Old Style Serifs
  • Transitional Serifs
  • Neoclassical and Didone
  • Clarendon Serifs
  • Glyphic Serifs
  • Slab Serifs

Serif Fonts Examples

Times New Roman is a well-known example of a serif font type, but there are still many other examples to name. The serif type can range from the more classy March font, Glitten font and Afrah Family font to the more spectacular fonts called The Ancient and Letter Magic.

An example of the serif typeface called Afrah

How to use Serif Fonts

The serif typeface can repeatedly be seen in the body text of print documents because it is very legible. This extensive font type is one that many rely on, and it is especially popular in the professional, academic and cultural areas as it gives the impression of being elegant, refined and everlasting.

Serif font called Glitten used in a creative example

2. Slab Serif Fonts

What Is a Slab Serif Font?

Slab serif fonts form part of the serif group. While traditional serif font types are notably thinner, slab serifs have thicker strokes at the ends of the letterforms. Mostly, they look like they came out of a typewriter. You can easily identify them because there isn’t a striking difference between the thicker and thinner lines used to form the letters.

Slab Serif Fonts Examples

An example you may already know of is Clarendon. With slab serifs, the different kinds of fonts can be classic like Andigo and Bondie, or sporty like Touchdown and College Sport, or even cute like Little Sailor and Funyard. The possibilities are endless!

An example of a slab serif typeface called Bondie

How to use Slab Serif Fonts

Slab serifs are noticeable and can be used to highlight significant words or sentences (in, for example, articles or presentations) because it possesses the qualities of being brave and making an impact.

Slab serif typeface used in a presentation

3. Sans Serif Fonts

What Is a Sans Serif Font?

Sans serif fonts differ from the traditional serif font style because it omits the little strokes at the end of the letterforms, which can make them have the appearance of geometric shapes. It is named accordingly because the word sans means without.

The sans serif font group also encompasses the following categories:

  • Grotesque sans serif
  • Square
  • Humanistic
  • Geometric

Sans Serif Fonts Examples

An example of a sans serif font you may know of is Helvetica but you should also check out these great examples:

An example of a sans serif font style called Minimalust

How to use Sans Serif Fonts

This straightforward font type is more informal than serif and is also seen as being practical. Because of their clear lines, they work well when you need to read words on a screen. Consequently, this is the environment they are often seen in (think digital templates, social media, etc.), and this indicates how popular sans serifs can be.

Sans serif font called Sauvage used in a social media image

4. Script Fonts

What Is a Script Font?

The script and handwritten fonts style looks like it is imitating calligraphy or cursive writing with its eye-catching and characteristic twists and curves.

The script font group also encompasses the following categories:

  • Formal
  • Casual scripts
  • Calligraphic
  • Blackletter and Lombardic

Script Fonts Examples

An example of a script font you may know of is Alex Brush but you should also check out these great examples:

An example of a script font called Goldie Rainbow

How to use Script Fonts

Script fonts can vary between being chic and easy-going, and being refined and extravagant. It is not suitable for longer sections of text, and it isn’t well-received if it is used in all caps. However, it shines when used for shorter fanciful texts on certificates and invitations, or in headings and logos.

Script fond called Shalma used in an invitation

5. Decorative Fonts

 What Is a Decorative Font?

Decorative fonts can cover a variety of designs. Certain decorative fonts even include unusual letterforms that result in a very special look. Creating this style of font can also involve adding specific visual features for the purpose of advancing the design, and ultimately creating what we know as display fonts.

The decorative font group also encompasses the following categories:

  • Grunge
  • Psychedelic
  • Graffiti

Decorative Fonts Examples

An example you may know of is Jokerman but you’ll be surprised at how many more there are.

Are you looking for something light and fun? Check out:

What about something dark and mysterious? Check out:

Or maybe something unique and different? Check out?

An example of a decorative font called Tombstone

How to use Decorative Fonts

This font style can convey a distinct message about the tone of the piece. With their unique look, they are commonly used as the biggest text component of the document. This is used to grab someone’s attention, but it is also for a more practical reason – it makes the complex font easier to read. Yes, it is a powerful font to use, but overusing it can make a page look like too much is happening in one place.

Decorative font called Sweet Winter used on the cover of a story book

Free Fonts of the 5 Different Font Styles

The best way to learn about what works for you is by experimenting with different fonts. You can start by downloading these free fonts:

Download the free serif fonts – Orchid font and Wordan font

Download the free slab serif fonts – Euphorigenic font and Rogueland font

Download the free sans serif fonts – Anders font and Klotee font

Download the free script fonts – Nouradilla font and Tomatoes font

Download the free decorative fonts – Retro font and Colortube Pro font

Now, you should have more confidence when it comes to telling different styles of fonts apart. You know the names and you can point out the distinguishing features. This will also help you to determine how you can use the font type.

Once you start working with a lot of fonts, you will probably discover the convenience of purchasing bundles and having different font types or a font family available to use. Likewise, you can benefit from having a font subscription that gives you unlimited access to various kinds of fonts in the above mentioned styles with new ones being added regularly. Remember to make use of tools like Fontcloud to manage your fonts online.

Browse all fonts and dingbats to find the popular selections of the week, the new releases and discounted fonts. Want to learn more about fonts? A good place to start is to find out how to mix fonts in your project as well as what you need to know about font licensing.

Further information on font styles

You can also earn more about fonts by going through the insightful sources used for this article. After you have gone through a crash course in typography and all it entails, you can stay informed about what’s relevant in the digital age in 5 Types of Fonts & How to Use Them In Graphic Design [2021]. Determine the what (5 types of font and what to use them for), the when (5 Types of Fonts & When to Use Them), and the how (The 5 types of fonts and how to use them) of using different font styles today.

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Diane Kempton

June 1, 2023

Thank you for sharing these tips

Sarah Jester

September 13, 2022

Thank you so much for taking the time to explain fonts and how and when to use them. Very informative and educational.

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