Serif vs. Sans-Serif Fonts

How important is a font? This may surprise you, but in the world of trade publishing, your font may be what separates your manuscript from being considered for publishing . . . or being thrown in the dreaded slush pile.

We will go through this further in the follow up article, Industry Standard Formatting. But for now, I want to help you understand the difference between a Serif and Sans-Serif font.


Let me break this down into layman’s terms:

  • Sans means without
  • Serif fonts have little flourishes, or the little flick.
  • Sans-Serif fonts are the ones without flourishes or flicks.

Examples of Serif fonts include Times New Roman, Constantia and Georgia

Examples of Sans-Serif fonts include Ariel, Tahoma, Veranda, and the Microsoft Word default font Calibri.

Now that you can tell the difference between which font is which, let me explain how to appropriately use them.

Serif fonts are designed for printed work, such as books and newspapers. The little flicks and flourishes are easier for our eyes to follow. Similar to how cursive writing connects each letter, Serif fonts are easiest for our brains to distinguish, as they seem to flow together. This is the font publishing houses are looking for when it comes to trade publishing.

Sans-Serif fonts are best used for online work, such as web-articles, or even Fan Fiction sites. Computer glare can add strain to our eyes, and the lower resolutions make Serif fonts harder to read on our screens. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and it is not uncommon for non-fiction or business documents to be printed in Sans-Serif fonts. Furthermore, eBooks, such as Kindle, provide a range of fonts and typesets for readers to choose from. Popular choices include Georgia and Baskerville.

Next, we will be going into Industry Standard Formatting, where we will focus on the appropriate format to use if you want to submit your manuscript to a publishing house.


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