History of Typeface Styles and Typeface Classification

typeface type

A typeface is an overall design of lettering. It is a group of characters with the same design. This design includes features like bold, extra bold, light, regular, condensed, italics, extended, etc. Each of these varieties of a typeface is referred to as a font.

As time goes by, more typefaces are in development, joining the existence of thousands available. Using it in typography can be a lot more than you think.

Good typography can make a design look great while a bad one can do the otherwise. Good typography can also help pass down information visually- how good your typography is dependent on the typeface used.

History of the Typeface Styles

Several typeface types suit our design or day-to-day typography. These typeface types undergo a lot of planning before you can make use of them. Have you wondered where these typefaces came from or who invented them?

We will be giving a brief history of the typeface types and their inventors. Some significant occasions surround their inventions. These occasions sometimes do have a part to play in the designs.

Typography is the ability to create letters that we use. The font is a set of characters, while the typeface is the style, look, and design of a particular font. In summary, the typography accommodates the typeface, and the typeface accommodates the fonts.

Examples of fonts include the gothic fonts, roman fonts, italics, modern gothic font, etc. There are also other types of typefaces, including serif, script, display, etc.

In the 1400s, Guttenberg invented a moveable typeface. Guttenberg created the first typeface called the Blackletter. He made a cheap way of obtaining the written word. Although this typeface was not very legible, it was intense, reasonably practical, and dark.

In 1470, Nicolas Jenson got inspiration from the text on the ancient Roman buildings; from this inspiration, he invented a roman typeface that was way more readable than the Blackletter by Guttenberg.

Moving to the 17th century, William Caslon created a typeface with straight san serifs and contrasts between bold and thin strokes. Many people call it “the old style.”

A transitional type Roman-style with sharp serifs was created in 1757 by John Baskerville. In 1780, the partnership of Giambattista Bodoni and Firmin Didot resulted in the first modern roman typeface.

In 1816, there came the existence of a typeface without any serif. It was the work of William Caslon IV and was the first of its kind. Many people rebuffed it at the time of its creation. This creation marked the start of what we now consider a Sans Serif typeface.

Frederic Goudy, in the 1920s, became the first full-time type designer creating several groundbreaking typefaces. Some of the typefaces include; the copperplate gothic font, Goudy old style, and Kennerly.

In 1957, Max Miedinger, a Swiss designer, created Helvetica. Many people loved the Helvetica as it was a return to minimalism and other simplistic typefaces.

Presently, there are a lot of new and old typeface types that you can get from the internet. All the typefaces give us abundant options to choose from and get a good design.

Unlike in the 18th century, where they had limited typefaces to choose from, we have many typeface types to enjoy our designs.

Classification of Typefaces

There are five classifications of typefaces. These typeface types have their use and area of specialization.

Serif: Generally, a serif is used for headlines or body copy. It is also useful in logos and titles. Serifs are regarded as classic and traditional typefaces.

typeface type
typeface type

Serifs have fine details, including high-contrast and delicate designs, although they don’t display very well on screen and low-resolution displays. Some typefaces classified under the serif includes; Romana, Caslon, Plantin, Noe display, GT Sectra, etc.

Sans Serif: The early sans serif typefaces were known as grotesque or gothic fonts. Sans Serif is a classification of the typeface used for headlines. It is also helpful in body copy and logos. Sans Serifs is a contemporary and modern type.

Its reign started in the eighteenth century and became widespread in the nineteenth century as Serifs are useful in running body text. In contrast, sans serif is widely and dominantly used on the web.

Some typefaces classified under the Sans Serif include; Futura, Apercu, Avenir, GT America, Proxima Nova, Brandon Grotesque, Gotham, Circular, etc.

Script: Script is a typeface type primarily used for headlines. It is also useful in body copy but best at headlines. The script typeface is an exquisite calligraphic style of writing.

There are several font types under the Script typeface; fonts like FIG Script, Lucida, Coronet, French Script, Brush Script, Gravura, etc.

Display: The display is a classification of typeface suitable for headlines; it is useful at large sizes for headings than body text. It has variable and eccentric designs more than other types used for body text.

typeface type
typeface type

Common categories of the display typeface include lettering designs with swashes that seem hand-drawn. Its design features engraved, shadowed, hand-tooled, or in-line lettering with blank space at the center.

Monospaced: Monospaced are commonly used for displaying code. It is also ideal for headline and body copy. The monospaced was first used on typewriters.

At times, monospaced typefaces bring to mind computer programming and typewriters because they are the ones that make use of it mostly. Nevertheless, they can be a perfect shot for designers looking for that kind of design.

Examples under the Monospaced typeface include; Apercu Mono, Courier, Inconsolata, Space Mono, Maison Mono, Akkurat Mono, Pitch, etc.


The existence of typefaces started as early as the 1400s. These typefaces create a reminder of handwritten calligraphy. From the first typefaces called Blackletter to the grotesque and neo-grotesque, typography has made a lot of impacts.

There have been improvements in the designs’ legibility and craftsmanship. A designer should have the knowledge and use of different fonts and typefaces.

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