The Most Common Type Fonts

By Kristin Jennifer

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Font and font type are terms used to describe the style of lettering used in printing and publishing. Several hundred font types exist today for myriad communication formats. Fonts can differ from letter to letter depending on the intention of the writer or publisher. Newspapers, books, magazines and online publishers use common fonts that facilitate legibility and communicate the culture of the organization.


Serif fonts are the most common font type. Serif fonts are defined by the tiny embellishment at the end of each letter. Serif fonts are most commonly used in professional publications, such as newspapers, journals, magazines and books. Common serif fonts are Times New Roman, Bookman Old Style, Garamond and Courier.

Classification of Serif Styles

Serif fonts are classified as either old style, transitional, modern or slab serif. Old style lettering is based on the humanist calligraphy of the Renaissance. Garamond is an example of old style lettering. Traditional serif lettering is the most common, including Times New Roman. Modern lettering has a long and fine serif, such as that found in the Bodoni font. Slab serif is characterized by uniform bold lines with equal spacing, as from a typewriter. Courier is an example of the slab serif font type.


The letters in sans-serif fonts lack the little embellishments at the end of each letter found in serif fonts. Sans-serif styles are more common in digital publishing as they are deemed easier to read on a computer screen. Sans-serif fonts are also widely used in headlines and headings. Common sans-serif fonts include Helvitica, Lucida Grande, Tahoma and Arial.

Classification of Sans-serif Types

Like serif fonts, sans-serif fonts can be classified into four genres: grotesque, neo-grotesque, humanist or geometric. Grotesque is the oldest and rarest form of sans-serif, but includes Franklin Gothic, a font type available on Microsoft Word. Helvitica and Arial are examples of neo-grotesque styles. Humanist styles are considered the most legible of the sans-serif fonts, and include Lucida Grande, Tahoma and Veranda. Geometric styles are least used for publication.