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a small decorative line added to letters in some fonts. ➮ sans serif

a font that uses serifs, such as Times New Roman

COMMENT: Serifs can be straight, or sloping, or curved. They derive from Roman letters cut in stone. The purpose of adding serifs to letters is first to keep the letters apart, while at the same time making it possible to link one letter to the next, and secondly to make the letters distinct, in particular the top parts which the reader recognises when reading. To test this, cover the bottom half of a line of seriffed face text and do the same for a line of sans face text: then compare the legibility of the top parts of the letters. In the USA, seriffed faces are preferred because some sans faces do not distinguish between the capital ‘l’ and the lower case ‘l’, making it impossible to write the word ‘Illinois’, or particularly its abbreviation ‘Ill’.



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