Typefaces without serifs. They called also Grotesk (in Germany), Grotesque (in England and France) or Gothic (in America). These types made their first appearance in England in the early 19th century, though similar letterforms were used in early Greek inscriptions. They were first used mainly as display faces but later (in the 20th century) were used for text matter as well. Typical Sans Serif has low contrast or have no visible contrast between vertical and horizontal strokes at all. Due to bowl shape, degree of contrast, aperture and width evenness, Sans Serifs are subdivided into several groups: Grotesque, Neo-Grotesque, Geometric and Humanist. Sometimes Humanist Sans group covers also contrast Sans like Optima face whose shapes are the reproduction of an Old Style structure.
First Grotesque was issued in England in 1816. These faces have low contrast, even widths, large or moderate aperture. They are marked by simple, often rough geometric design, and large lowercase bowls. Typefaces in general give an impression of blunt, rigorous realism. Some families have only upright styles; others have oblique (not italics) ones. Slope is average.
Neo-Grotesque is a refinement of early Grotesque structure. They were issued during 1950s due to the requirements of the Swiss typography style. Neo-Grotesques are more elegant than their predecessors and hardly have any distinguishing features, so may be described as standard and inconspicuous. They have small aperture, even widths, low contrast and large x-height. They were designed in many styles and weights. Ascenders are the height of uppercase. Normally italic is absent or replaced by oblique. Slopes are from average to significant.
The newest and most modern sans serif type. Common feature
for all varieties of it are open and non-geometric forms. In addition, quite a few of them are characterized by low contrast; only in open sans serifs the vertical stems are cut.
In response to over-geometrical Geometric Sans new types of Sans Serif faces were issued in England in the 1930s. Their structure and proportions were based directly on Old Style characteristics. At present these types are widely used both as type families and as parts of superfamilies, that combine associated faces from different classification groups (for example, Serif and Sans). Humanist Sans normally have large apertures and some contrast. As a rule, they are distinguishable by uneven widths and modest lowercase counters, but there are some exceptions, especially for narrow proportions. Most of these faces have italics with minor or average slope.
Display and text fonts, intermediate between sans serifs and serifs by form. Their terminals have either barely noticeable thickenings, or small sharp serifs.
Geometric Sans is based on simple geometric forms – circle, square, equilateral triangle. The fonts were issued in Germany in the 1930s under the influence of Bauhaus movement. Normally they have large aperture, no contrast and uneven widths. Early Geometric Sans faces had small x-height, and their proportions were close to Old Style. Yet during the second half of the 20th century there evolved new styles with fairly large x-height. Only oblique styles is used (not italic), the slope is quite small. Sometimes display Sans with fairly square or rectangular bowls may be included into this group.
Like typewritten characters, these all have the same width and take up the same amount of space. Use of this type allows figures to be set in vertical rows without leaving a ragged appearance (as opposed to proportional type).