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Serif Typefaces
 

Oldstyle types were designed from the 1400s to the 1700s and were meant to mimic the look of hand-lettered books. Very warm, friendly, and “human.” The oldstyle types—like the Cochin face shown in this example—also have beautiful italics. A couple more favorites from this category: Bembo and Caslon.

 

Oldstyle
  Transitional types were named this as they appear as a midpoint between the oldstyles and the moderns. These typefaces—like the ITC New Baskerville example below—are crisp, refined, and based on geometry rather than expressive handwriting. Some descriptive terms for this style would be rational, businesslike, and authoritative. Other favorites: New Caledonia and Times.
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Transitional
  Modern types were made possible by advances in typecasting and engraving in the 1800s. These elegant types are now popular in advertising, fashion, and magazine editorial designs. The drastically thin hairlines make these a poor choice for reverses on small point sizes. The example below is Bauer Bodoni. Other favorite Modern typefaces include Didot and Walbaum.
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Modern
  Egyptian types were developed in the late 19th century. They have very little difference in the thick and thin stroke weight. Even the serifs have an almost even weight with the rest of the character. Good descriptive terms for Egyptians might be substantial, grounded, ... even “clunky.”
The example is New Century Schoolbook. Other favorites include Cheltenham and Olympian.
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Egyptian
  Slab Serif types are basically the same as Egyptians and were developed about the same time. The one main difference is there are no brackets on the serifs. Since there is little change, many typographers group slab serif and Egyptian types together in one category. This one is Serifa. Other favorite slab serif typefaces include ITC Lubalin Graph and Memphis.
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Slab Serif
  Back to the top, move on to sans serifs, or go back to the first classifications page.  
     
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