Comparisons between "serif fonts" and "sans-serif fonts" generally compare Times-Roman or Times New Roman against Helvetica or Arial. The presence of serifs on the former and lack of them on the latter, however, is not the most noticeable difference. A more significant difference is the fact that the former fonts are drawn with a mixture of wide and narrow strokes, while the strokes in Arial are of relatively-uniform width. This is most noticeable in letters like "V" which include strokes in both diagonal directions; in Helvetica, the strokes in both directions match, while in Times-Roman they are very different.

Is there a term which would distinguish a font like Belleza: enter image description here


from Helvetica, or Coustard: enter image description here


....from Times-Roman?

The distinction is perhaps quantitative rather than qualitative, though for fonts where the "V" has diagonal lines with roughly-equal angles, there's probably a pretty clear partition between fonts where the strokes are of equal weight, versus those where they are substantially unbalanced.

  • @Benteh: Thanks for importing the graphcs. What's the easiest way to do that? – supercat Aug 17 '14 at 18:28
  • No problem. I took some screenshots and used the upload image-button above the edit-field. – Benteh Aug 17 '14 at 22:36

As with most typographic terms, there's no single answer to this. So many different terms can go into describing any particular font and the definitions tend to have so much overlap that placing type into defined buckets can be a fruitless undertaking.

Some terms that could apply to what you are looking for.


The term monoline is used for typefaces where every stroke of the letter is the same width. Cursive ball-point-pen typefaces would be a very typical example of this, but any face can be considered monoline if the strokes are all the same width.

Stroke Contrast

This refers to the difference between the thinnest and thickest strokes in your glyphs. A typeface such as Helvetica has very little stroke contrast and would be a 'low contrast' typeface. A blackletter typeface or a Bodoni, would have extreme stroke contrast and be a 'high contrast' typeface.

In regards to your particular examples, note that neither is a true monoline. The difference is going to be with the serifs and the stroke contrast. You could therefore say:

Belleza is a higher contrast humanist sans-serif. Coustard is a lower contrast slab serif.

Note that I added some additional terms there such as humanist and slab serif. To describe any particular typeface, you often have to use multiple terms to describe various facets of the face.

  • Thanks. Would the best antonym for "monoline" be "high contrast"? Also, is there any distinction made between fonts where contrast is predominantly symmetrical (as with Helvetia-bold) versus asymmetrical (as with Times-Roman or Belleza)? If I were interested only in fonts where the two strokes of a "V" had different weights, is there any term for which would distinguish those from fonts where e.g. a "T" would have a thick stem and narrow crossbar, but the sides of a "V" would have balanced weight? – supercat Aug 17 '14 at 19:17
  • @supercat no, I don't think they'd be true antonyms. Close, but not quite. As for your latter question, no, I don't think there is any particular terms that go into the symmetry of different stroke weights--that said, different terms would tend to have common stroke weight patterns. Roman fonts, for instance, will tend to always have similar strokes emphasized over others. – DA01 Aug 17 '14 at 20:07
  • The term "Roman" fonts tends to imply variable stroke widths of the sort I'm interested in, but it's also strongly associated with serifs; I would think many people would regard "sans-serif Roman" as either being oxymoronic, or else as referring to a sans-serif font using a Latin typeface (versus Greek, Cyrillic, etc.) I'd find it curious that there's no term to describe a difference in stroke weight between the diagonal directions, since it should be both easy and useful to divide fonts into three categories based upon whether a "V" has... – supercat Aug 18 '14 at 15:34
  • ...essentially-straight-line strokes of roughly equal weight (for oblique fonts, make allowance for the difference in slope), essentially-straight-line strokes of substantially-different weight, or strokes that don't resemble straight lines. – supercat Aug 18 '14 at 15:38

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