Typography ?the different typefaces? has to be thought about from two points of view: a communicative and a technical one. As regards its communicative ability, there are two sides of typography. The typeface you choose for your site will have an effect on the recipient in two ways: it will communicate a verbal message and a non-verbal message. From the technical point of view, we will explain the serif and sans serif's advantages later on, and we will describe what they are and the difference with printed material.
Typography’s verbal message: This is the easiest item to recognize. The verbal message is the information that is conveyed through typography as words and sounds of a certain language, and which has a relatively stable meaning. The verbal message is what the combined letters that form words say; it consists of what is written. In this case, typography is the verbal material’s format, what creates the material and the means that communicates the information.
The non-verbal message is more complex. As we mentioned before, the typeface you choose does not interfere that much in verbal communication as, in general terms, an «a» is an «a», no matter the typeface you write it in. However, typography represents an added value to the words, in a connotative way; i.e., it communicates a message which is neither direct nor unanimous. Although an «a» is an «a», no matter the typeface, it is not the same to read the word «surgical» with any typeface, and the same happens with all words. Nevertheless, we will take «surgical» as our example. Let’s suppose your company sells surgical material. Imagine your site's typography is funny or humorous, as many you have surely seen. It is not advisable that a user reads «surgical material» or «angioplasty», etc. in this typeface. A serious typography, congruent to what is written, would be much better. The value of typography’s connotative message is very important: a wrong typography may wreck a product.
We will describe the advantages of using serif and sans serif from a technical point of view. Serif typography is the one that uses serifs to finish letters. Serifs are details on the ends of some typefaces which form a kind of base that supports them. An example of serif typography is Times New Roman. Sans serif typography is the one that lacks serifs. An example of it is the well-known Arial typeface. In print media, such as books, newspapers, magazines, etc., serif typographies are usually used to write long texts. This is due to the fact that serifs help readers follow the reading, call the reader's attention and do not strain eyes so much. However, as you can see, Web pages’ long texts are not usually written in serif typographies. The reason why they use sans serif typographies is because computer monitors have a lower resolution than printers, and serif typefaces are difficult to read. In monitors, serifs are not well-defined and letters look blurred, which makes reading a difficult task.
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