Humanist serif typefaces were developed during the 1400s and 1500s. This typeface classification is also known as Old Style Serif or Venetian. These typefaces were the first roman types. The early printed books utilized these typefaces. These typefaces are best for large amounts of text, i.e. books and magazines.
Adobe Jenson, Cala, Bembo Book, FF Clifford, FF Scala, Lexicon, Minion, Garamond Premier, MVB Verdigris
Transitional serifs, also known as Neoclassical, were developed during the 1700s. The Transitional serifs were named as such because this type of style was the transition between the Humanist and Modern typefaces.
Adobe Caslon, Baskerville Original, Mrs Eaves, Plantin, Arnhem, Times New Roman, Le Monde Journal
Rational serifs were created in contrast to the Humanist typefaces. This typeface has thick vertical strokes and fine horizontal lines. Rational serifs are typically symmetrical. These letterforms are created by drawing rather than writing. The extreme stroke weight contrast comes from putting more pressure on the pen during the creation of the wider strokes.
Bauer Bodoni, ITC Bodoni, H&FJ Didot, Filosofia, Farnham, New Century Schoolbook, Miller, Eames Century Modern, Ingeborg, Melior
This typeface style was created in the past 40 years. This style is best for large amounts of text, as legibility was the focus in creating these typefaces.
Neue Swift, Skolar, Fedra Serif, FF Meta Serif, Doko
These typefaces appear to be created from carvings or chiseling into a hard substrate. The serifs are drastically different between each typeface in this classification.
Luxury Diamond, Albertus, Modesto, Trajan
First of the sans serifs that left behind the calligraphy style of letter shapes. The round letters are more oval than circular. The stroke weight is fairly the same with each letter. Better for paragraphs than Geometric Sans Serif.
Bureau Grot, Knockout, FF Bau
This typeface classification is an extension to the Grotesque style. They often have a limited stroke contrast with straight terminals. These typefaces are best as headlines or display formats.
Univers, Neue Helvetica, Akkurat, National, Antique Olive
American variant of the Grotesque style, with simpler, more static forms.
Bell Centennial, News Gothic, Benton Sans, Whitney
These letterforms are created from geometric shapes. They are very structured with straight lines. The simplicity of the typeface can make them feel clinical. Ideal typeface for headings but inadequate for long paragraphs.
Futura ND, Avenir, Gotham, ITC Avant Garde Gothic, Calibre/Metric, FF DIN, Interstate, Verlag, Klavika, MVB Solano Gothic, Forza
The Humanist sans serifs have similarities to the calligraphic style found in the Humanist serif typefaces. This typeface was created in Britain in the 1900s. Their strokes have a higher contrast than most sans serifs. This style is most ideal for small text. This is an ideal typeface for books and magazines.
Gill Sans, FF Yoga Sans, Frutiger, Myriad, Verdana, Syntax, Cronos, TheSans, Auto, Optima, Beorcana
This typeface style became common in the 1990s.
FF Meta, Amplitude, Fedra Sans, FF Dax, FF Balance
This typeface style is bulky, bold, and robust. Grotesque Slabs typically have ball terminals. These are good for attracting attention, not ideal for body copy.
Giza, Clarendon, Farao, Heron Serif
Typically these typefaces are very geometric in shape, with the letterforms being created from circles and squares. They typically have straight legs with consistent stroke weight.
Archer, Neutraface Slab, Rockwell
These typefaces are based on the Humanist sans serifs but with unbracketed and rectangular or wedge-shaped serifs.
PMN Caecilia, FF Unit Slab, Adelle, Freight Micro
Script typefaces are the marriage of roman and italic letterforms. They typically imitate the handwritten cursive letterform. Scripts are good for adding some flair. Use it in moderation.
Kinescope, Studio Slant, Radio, Bickham Script, Tangier, Suomi Hand Script
Nitti, Ed Interlock, Bree, Rumba, Trade Gothic Bold Condensed No.20, Heroic Condensed, Cabazon, SangBleu, Marian
Coles, Stephen. The Anatomy of Type. Quid Publishing. 2012.
See also typographic samples on Wikipedia and FontSquirrel