What should I see when I opened Twitter this morning, but a tweet from Errol Morris that said,
@errolmorris: “The author has regrettably confused ‘typefaces’ and ‘fonts.’ (How could he?)”
and I realized that my post yesterday must be riddled with errors. Until that moment I had no idea that there was a difference between the two terms. For those of you like me, here is a bit of clarification.
Arial, Helvetica, Comic Sans–these are all typefaces. One of the best explanations was by Jon Tan, who says,
I think of a typeface as the design of a type family. Like every family, type families have names. An example of a type family name is Georgia. Georgia is a type family — a typeface — not a font.
The specific manifestation.
Tan goes on to describe fonts as particular family members–related, yet unique. There are many font variations for every typeface. Essentially, a font is comprised of the size and styling of a typeface:
Unfortunately, these terms are commonly, though incorrectly, interchanged. If you pull up the font editor in Microsoft Word the 3 main categories that appear are “Font,” “Font Style,” and “Size.” Put these things together and you most definitely get a font; however, it should read “Typeface” “Style” and “Size.”
I hope I haven’t confused matters more for you. I, myself, had to look at several definitions before I could make sense of the difference in the terms. In case you need it in different words or with more examples, here are the three best definitions that I encountered:
- “Typeface !=Font” by Jon Tan, JonTANgerine.com. Aug. 22, 2008. http://v1.jontangerine.com/log/2008/08/typeface–font
- “When is It Wrong to Call a Typeface a Font?” by Vivian, InspirationBit.com. June 13, 2007. http://www.inspirationbit.com/when-is-it-wrong-to-call-a-typeface-font/
- “Typeface vs. Font” by Alison Boncha, Learned & Found. June 19, 2008. http://aboncha.wordpress.com/2008/06/19/typeface-vs-font/