Learning Type

Egyptian or Slab Serif Typefaces

This article wouldn’t be complete without a mention of slab serifs. These are among the easiest to identify because of their very obvious appearance. Originally created for advertising, posters and other large media, slab serifs, alternatively called “Mechanicals” (in VOX-ATypI) and “Égyptiennes” (by Thibaudeau), were the first types expressly designed as display type. Vincent Figgins is credited with the first slab serifs, the earliest specimen dating to 1815, and his work inspired a diversity of critiques variously commending and lambasting the new style.

Abrupt serifs, usually in heavy weights, and a no-nonsense attitude are the trademarks of this style.

Clarendons, a notable offshoot of the original slab serifs, are a slightly tamed slab style, often in less extreme weights and using bracketed serifs. They have a lighter, friendlier character than the Neo-Grotesque slabs (i.e. those with unbracketed serifs and geometric construction).


Alessio, Joseph. "Making Sense Of Type Classification (Part 1)." Smashing Magazine. N.p., 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 27 Apr. 2014.