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Type Categories Table

by Jennifer L. Bowie, Ph.D.


Larger Category





Old Style Serif
  • Subtle thick/thin transitions
  • Maintains the flow of calligraphy
  • Diagonal stress (left)
  • Slanted [bracketed] serifs
Very good (good to poor on screen) Good

Traditional, calm, formal

Book Antiqua, Bookman, Californian FB, Calisto, Centaur, Garamond,
Goudy Old Style, Palatino
Transitional Serif
  • A transiton between Oldstyle and Modern, so the strucutre is often between the two
  • Less/limited calligraphic flow
  • Moderate to high thick/thin transitions
  • Vertical/ nearly vertical stress
  • Sharp or bracketed serifs
Very good (good on screen) Good

Simple, elegant, genteel (first one was designed for King Louis XIV), friendly

Baskerville, Bell, New York, Perpetua, Times New Roman, and Georgia
Modern Serif
  • Radical thick/thin transitions
  • Vertical stress
  • Serifs thin and horizontal
Poor Good/Fair

Cold, elegant, dazzling

Bodoni, Elephant, Bernard MT Condensed
Slab Serif Serif
  • Little/no thick/thin transitions
  • Vertical stress
  • Horizontal and think slab serifs
Very good Good

Straight-forward, plain, clean, athletic

Sans Serif Sans Serif
  • No/little thick/thin transitions (monoweight)
  • No stress
  • No serifs
Good Very Good

Modern, technical, clean

Arial, Helvetica, Verdana, Tahoma, Century Gothic, Calibri, and Bell Gothic



  • Looks like handwriting
  • Letters may connect or not

Often poor

Often poor to fair

Varies greatly Blackadder IT, Bradley Hand ITC, Brush Script MT, Freestyle Script, Rage Italic



  • Structure varies greatly
  • Fun, distinctive, strong faces
Often poor Often poor to fair Varies greatly Algerian,Burnstown Dam, Hobo Std, Jokerman, Ravie, Snap ITC

Grunge or Distressed

  • Structure varies greatly
  • Distorted, trashed, schizophrenic, ugly, distinctive
Often poor Often poor to fair Varies  




For each example, I set up a font list with the first item the typeface and the second item the category of typeface. So, this means if you are not seeing the typeface, because your computer does not have it, you are seeing a substitute from the same category. For example, if you do not see Georgia, you will see a serif typeface. For decorative, there was no default category choice, so I set it it to be monospaced. Thus, a monosapced typeface will appear if you do not have the decorative typeface.

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