Serif Font Identification Guide Coding

This page shows the way that Coding values are generated for the four Style Codes used in the Serif Guide List (Tab-delimited Text version). The Serif Guide script, written by 'Per Etz' converts these four values so that you can make selections of each characteristic and see the fonts that have those characteristics.

How to use this Font Identification Aid/Guide Coding Matrix

You only need to have a sample with the following 12 letters to use this Font Identification Aid: a, b, e, g, y, E, J, K, M, R, U and W.

There are four tables used to help characterize a typeface in this Identification Guide. The first two are based on lower case letters (minuscules, or miniscules); the next two are only upper case letters (majuscules). This allows narrowing identification choices even without both cases in a sample. With all four codes, I think the identification to a specific typeface is almost assured, as long as I have catalogued it.

The first table uses seven possible variations of the letter 'a' and six combinations of shapes of the letters 'b' and 'e' to get the first Style Code. Decide which letterform shapes match most closely with the sample and note the corresponding Style Code number from the table. With the 'a', there are two basic types -- 2-storey or single storey -- and variations based on the serif shape and placement. There are two basic 'e' types, based on the crossbar angle; and three 'b' varieties, based on the stem.

The second table uses the various shapes of the letters g and y to give the second Style Code. You will note six basic variations of each letter, based on serif shape, and position, as well as tail shape.

The third table uses the various shapes of the letter combinations K & U and E & J to give the third Style Code. You will note nine basic variations of the K (with two treated as one), based on leg shape and stem connection; two forms of the U (with and without a stem); six types of E, based on serifs and arm lengths; and in the two types of 'J', the hook is either below, or on, the baseline.

The fourth table uses the various shapes of the letter M and the combinations R & W to give the fourth and last Style Code. You will note 12 basic variations of the M, based on serifs and leg angles. There are 4 styles of R, based on leg position and shape; and there are 4 'W' forms, based on leg and serif arrangement.

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Table 1










no serif on arch
1
2
3
4
5
6

wedge or triangular serif
7
8
9
10
11
12


line or squared serif

13
14
15
16
17
18

wide straight terminal
19
20
21
22
23
24

pear or ball terminal
25
26
27
28
29
30

single storey with one serif
31
32
33
34
35 36


single storey with two serifs

37
38
39
40
41 42

Table 1 Assumptions:
Assume e is angled type if bar is not completely straight.


Table 2


curved tail
(may have serif)

straight tail
(no serif)

straight or
wedge serif

clubbed tail

hooked tail

curved bowl

'ear' downward

1 2 3 4 5 6

'ear' upward

7 8 9 10 11 12

'ear' straight

13 14 15 16 17 18

lower bowl open

19 20 21 22 23 24

bowl connection wide left
25 26 27 28 29 30

single storey g
31 32 33 34 35 36

Table 2 Assumptions:
NOTE: Tail form of g is highest priority; ear shape only considered on closed bowl tails .
Assume tail of a y is straight, unless it is obvious that it is not for most of its length.

Table 3



bowl on baseline



extends below baseline


















lower serif angles outward
lower serif approx vertical
Middle arm almost equal to upper arm
Middle arm much shorter
No serif on middle arm Middle arm almost equal to upper arm Middle arm much shorter No serif on middle arm

K legs meet at stem
no stem
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24

K legs do not touch stem
25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

Horiz. line between legs and stem
49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72

Upper (or lower) leg is curved
73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

K legs meet on one leg; both are straight
97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108
109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120

Lower leg flares out, or has half serif
121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132
133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144

Lower leg curves downward
145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156
157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168

Upper leg is curved
169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180
181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192

Table 3 Assumptions:
Assume legs of K are straight unless they are obviously curved .
Assume legs of K meet at their ends, unless it is obvious they do not.
Assume lower serif on E is vertical, unless it obviously is not.

Table 4


















half serifs
one or no serif
full serifs
crotch not on baseline
Splayed legs

R leg starts at/near stemcrossed legs
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
center legs at/near serif 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24
no center serif 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36
W stepped 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

R leg mostly straight; starts away from stem
49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60
61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72
73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84
85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96

R leg has strong flip
97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108
109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120
121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132
133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144

R leg arched; no/small flip
145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156
157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168
169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180
181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192

Table 4 Assumptions:
Assume W is type 2 form, unless center legs meet well below serif.
Assume R is type 1 as long as leg originates at or near stem.
Consider R as type 2 when leg originates well away from stem on the bowl.
Consider R as type 3 whenever there is a very pronounced upward flip to the leg

terminal, regardless of the leg origin.
Legs of M are considered vertical, unless at least one leg is obviously splayed.
M is type 2, 5, 8 or 11 whenever one or both upper serifs is missing.

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Date of this page version: 12 Jun 2006

The Serif Font Identification Aid/Guide is Copyright © 2006 by Michael Yanega.
The typeface names and designs are the property of their respective owners.