Typefaces, serifs, and capital "I"

This might be my first GQ, I don’t know for sure. The intent has no doubt been encountered before, viz., to settle a “petty disagreement” with my spouse.

One of us refers to the top and bottom horizontal members sometimes used in a capital I, as “serifs”. The other contends that these horizontal lines should generally be thought of as a “built-in component” of the font or typeface, which in turn could have the little serifs adorning their end points if that typeface is so designed.

Stated another way, there are “serifless” typefaces which still use horizontal bars above and below a capital “I” (in fact, the typeface in my message window right now seems to be that way, although the bars are very small…)

Does this make sense? Any printing / graphic arts folks out there wanna weigh in on this? (And please spare me links to the www.m-w.com definition of serif, etc, I have already beaten that horse…"


serifless 'vark

Those extensions at the top and bottom of the “I” are indeed serifs.

Serifs are represented on a continuum - from very small and delicate (classic) to large and blocky (slab). Serifs were originally used to make typeface easier to read by setting each line in its own little “railroad track” formed by the serifs.

While there are “mixed” typefaces, true sans-serif typefaces like Helvetica have no extensions on the ends.

AFAIK, the ‘horizontal lines’ on the top and bottom of the I are serifs.

Part of the confusion might be because Verdana, a sans-serif typeface, has these serifs (but other sans-serif fonts do not… see below):

Arial (sans-serif)

Times New Roman (serif)

Verdana (sans-serif)

Seems to be serif.



You and your SO are fighting over serifs? Good God.

They are indeed serifs. Not all faces are strictly serif or sans. I suppose one could call such faces “semiserif.”

Not only that, but now I have to go sing the “You were right and I was wrong” song. :wally

I’ll help. Here’s your note: Hmmmmmmmm . . . :wink: