Serif or sans serif?

Photo is of a typewritten page with the following text, which varies between serif and sans serif typefaces. Tuesday, May 14, 2019. Chicago, USA. To serif or not to serif. I've always preferred using a serif typeface for body text; the legs and feet just always seemed to make it easier to read. At newspapers where I worked, the house style often dictated serif for body type and sans serif for captions. The exception was so-called advertorial, aka advertising designed to look like real news. This usually employed sans serif for body type as a way to make it appear different from regular news content. In my experience, however, serif or sans serif never made that big a difference when it came to editorial vs. advertorial because most newspaper readers have been — and continue to be — unaware of the difference. But I have warmed to the quasi-sans typeface used in this Hermes 3000 typewriter from 1968. Its typeface, Techno Pica, feels like a serif face sometimes and sometimes like a pure sans serif. Only a few letters sport serifs, others don't — but I 'm unable to figure why. The photo shows an example of Techno Pica typeface, which is mostly san serif except for a handful of exceptions. I can sort of see why the serifs. You don't want a lowrcase ell to be mistaken for a sans serif numeral one. So in Techno Pica, both are unique. Tis a mystery.



6 thoughts on “Serif or sans serif?

  1. In your sample, only the r, I, i, and l can be said to have serifs and in the case of the last three, it’s pretty clear that the reason is to fill up some of the vast(ish) space that would be left empty and distracting in this monospace font. With the r it might simply be the designer’s whim. HTH


    • Good points! I’ve always wondered about typewriter typefaces and why they are the way they are.

      I can understand offering pica and its smaller cousin elite, but Hermes typewriters also had “special” versions of typefaces that were just a skooch smaller than the regular version. Like Techno Pica and Techno Pica Special, Pica Director, etc. I guess it all comes down to niche markets that today simply resize on a computer.

      Speaking of which, I won’t even begin to wonder why Microsoft’s default point size seems to be 11 these days. Why not 12 or 10? Mongo not know. Mongo merely pawn in game of life.


  2. Mono-spaced fonts are so nice. It’s why I prefer typing my first drafts in TextWrangler (now BBEdit). Perhaps the mono-spaced fonts are have a bit more orderly look to them, since they form straight columns. Combine the columns with the rows, and you have a nice grid.

    Or maybe, I like the mono-spaced font, because it subconsciously makes me think I’m using a typewriter. Maybe I should find a digital version of Pica, and see how it feels when I use it in BBEdit.


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