A classification of any kind usually differs from author to author. This also applies to fonts, which is vaster a field than it might seem to the beginner. Here, I provide a simple categorization of fonts into five major classes.
By definition, serif means a small line at the end of each stroke. Check this:
Serif fonts are more readable, as in they are easy on the eyes, and are better suited for large blocks of text.
This is a subtype of serif, in which the serif is usually a fixed-width block, hence the name. For instance:
The names of slab serif fonts usually end in “Slab”.
In French, “sans” means “without”, so sans-serif fonts are those without a serif. Like this:
Sans-serif fonts are legible, as in each character can be easily distinguished. They are great for titles and headings.
Their names usually end in “Sans”.
These are fixed-width, typewriter-style fonts, in that each character has the same width, no matter what. See this:
Monospace fonts are generally used in terminal shells and for displaying code. Their names often end in “Mono”.
Hand fonts are the ones which are meant to emulate human handwriting. For example:
Unsurprisingly, their names likely end in “Hand”.
These are the groovy ones, and there’s really no rule to recognize these, apart from sense of deduction. Let me scare you:
And they usually have funky names.
So, that’s all. You might find more detailed classifications elsewhere, but this is perhaps as simple as you can get.
On a related note, do check out my “Font of the Week” series, wherein I feature one yummy font every week.