Serif is a term from the printing industry, probably of Dutch origin. The Reader’s Digest Universal Dictionary describes ‘serif’ as “a fine line finishing off the main strokes, as at the top and bottom of M or ending the cross stroke of T“.

A font which employs it is referred to as a serif font. Fonts that don’t are called ‘sans serif’. Example: the title of this blog, the headline of this piece, and the body text are all composed in a sans serif font.


Sans Serif is also, famously, the subject of one of the all-time-great April Fool’s jokes played by a broadsheet newspaper.

On April 1 of 1977, The Guardian, London, brought out a seven-page travel supplement in honour of the 10th anniversary of Sans Serriffe (capital: Bodoni), a small republic located in the Indian Ocean, consisting of several semi-colon shaped islands the biggest of which were Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its leader? General Pica.

A series of articles described the geography and culture of the place.

Accompanying advertisements too turned it on (Kodak: “If you have a photograph of Sans Seriffe, Kodak would like to see it.” Guinness: “How Sans Seriffe turned Guinness upside down.” Texaco: “Win two weeks in Sans Seriffe as a guest of James Hunt“).

Hundreds of readers began calling their travel agents for bookings and the newspaper for more information.

The Guardian even received a letter from a group calling itself the San Serriffe Liberation Front, which took the paper to task for the pro-government slant of its report.


Till it dawned on everybody that it was all an elaborate hoax to mark All Fools Day. Everything about the island was named after printer’s terminology.

The success of this prank, devised by Philip Davies, is widely credited with launching the enthusiasm for April foolery that has gripped British tabloids ever since.



  1. DR

    would like to contribute to your site or related publishing bodies.

    i am a freelance feature writer currently writing for one of the weekly supplements of a leading national english dailies in India.

    Looking forward to hearing on this.


  2. jitendra

    i am vrymuch happy to visit ur site .and also come to know that still there are some people who love sanskrit .i can not understand why sanskrit is not accepted by lerned all over the world?

  3. Anam Arsalan

    Wish you had an easier way to approach the site. The current address (https://wearethebest.wordpress.com) is rather complicated. Why not just go for sansserif.com or something similar for the address bar.

  4. Fact Nazi

    Not all the islands were shaped like a semi-colon. Only the two largest, together. In fact, no one island can be shaped like a semi-colon. It takes two.

  5. Ravi Shankar

    why is churumuri hiding under a false name? its easy to write anything you want about anybody so long you don’t reveal your identity; this is cowardice, in my opinion.

  6. Hah, I remember this jape and I remember Philip Davies. I was new to advertising at the time. The Guardian was one of our clients at The Creative Business in London, run by David Bernstein and Lawrence Isaacson.

  7. ayyo amma

    Feet of clay (Indian media and other elite personalities) in vinod mehta’s book

  8. Vinay Sachdev

    In 1977 i was one of the persons who wrote to guinness about their april fools day ad. in time they sent me a guinness drinking glass which is printed upside down. This glass has survived 3 earth quakes of California and is still unused together with the original letter from guinness and a photocopy of letter i mailed. I am interested to find out the value of the glass.

  9. Ram

    Hi, Here in Andhra Pradesh, Government tying to demolish a News paper named Sakshi. Do you hear this? Can’t you respond for it?

  10. Ravish Tiwari

    hope you people saw this link : http://bharatkalyan97.blogspot.in/2012/06/complaint-to-press-registrar.html showing the complaint of Subramanian Swamy to Press Registrar about Hindu Editor Siddharth Varadarajan’s American nationality. How Indian newspaper have a foreign citizen? why you people are silent about the biggest violation happened in your community….

  11. WP

    Why is ‘Sans Serif’ in a serif font? Tad too misleading if you ask me.

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