If you hear the dreaded mid-night knock on the door, it could well be the serif. This time of the year they look for errant margins or fonts that allow too many characters on a single line. The serif escaped from Holland some centuries ago when it was jailed for dominating the written word above all the accepted norms. The twirls and florid decorations of letters were being pushed aside by change. Changes always are disturbing. But the serif (schreef) protested. When the Treaty of Utrecht was signed it spelled the beginning of the end of the serif. It was jailed after the signing and did not rear its head again till another war broke out between England and France. The French wanted to revive the poor old serif but was defeated by someone named Charles who remained without progeny to take on the Throne.
Ever since, there are those that hold strong ‘serif and sans serif’ opinions. There are pockets of warring factions who congregate within the gated communities of suburbs of many cities, including Rome, Warsaw and Amsterdam. It is not as simple as just serif or sans serif. The serif fans are divided between those of the Time Roman, Courier, Palatino and New Century persuasions. Please consider amongst the sans serifs the strong presentation of the Helvetica mobs, Avant Garde (wearing red berets), Arial and Geneva fonts ( especially in Amsterdam).
So, what to do? Absolutely nothing. Let them knock. Don’t let them in. If they force their way in it is best to show compassion.
Personally I never heard of serif or sans serif and thought at first it was an exotic potato. It was after I started inquiring about how to get a book together that I learned it. I pretended knowledge and nodded sagely when the word was mentioned. How do people know those things? Next time I am around people who still talk and read words printed on paper I’ll swing the conversation towards serif and even throw in a few fonts. I might even ask; how are your margins going? Because, next to serif margins can easily crowd in the written word. It was astonishing to learn that the different sized margins are evenly split between uneven and even numbered pages.
And then the ongoing war between those that give two spaces after the end of a sentence and those that give it just a single space. It seems, that not only do words and their meanings sometimes change, but also the way they are put in print. One of our friends heard some schools are now not teaching running-writing anymore. Is that true? Some experts predict writing by hand is close to disappearing. What about shopping lists? I still see shoppers ticking off the hand written shopping list. There is hope!
Who would have thought?