The typography is one of the essential elements of a professional graphic design that involves the correct application of typefaces and fonts.
Interestingly, for the uninitiated, the two terms – Typeface and Font – are pretty much the same thing. However, seasoned graphic designers know the difference between typeface and font.
It is not uncommon to confuse the two terms as the same thing. In fact, these two terms are used interchangeable, like synonyms, and it doesn’t really present a problem.
However, on a more technical level, one would see that these terms have in fact distinct definitions.
But, along with understanding the difference between typeface and font, at the end of the day, we also need to identify if the distinction really matters.
So, in today’s discussion, we’ll look into some prominent differences between typeface and font, along with establishing whether these differences really matter or not.
Simply put, the main difference between a typeface and font is that a typeface (or type family) is the collection of certain related fonts. It is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features.
Fonts, on the other hand, refer to a specific configuration within a typeface. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation.
In short, a single typeface is made up of different font styles.
For example, Helvetica is a typeface that includes Sans Serif characters with a common design ethos. However, it is made up of a set of fonts, each in a specific weight, style, and size, with different levels of condensation as well as italic versions.
So, let’s say you chose Helvetica as the typeface for a graphic design project for your business branding. However, the actual font style that would appear in the form of texts on the designs would be Helvetica Regular.
A good analogy to understand the difference between typeface and font is to think of it as different variations of aged scotch. For example, Johnnie Walker has several different variations to offer in the form of 18 years old, 12-year-old, gold label reserve, etc.
So, here, Johnnie Walker is the typeface and its variations are the font types available under the brand.
With all the discussion above, it is absolutely clear that the two terms are different in definition. But, are they really so different in their application? And, does it really matter if we use one term to refer to another?
Well, as explained earlier in this article, it is not that only when you’re dealing with a professional designer who is a stickler for accuracy but, in certain contexts, it is important to know the exact font style.
For example, when coding an app for a specific type of display, adhering to a particular font selection may lead to optimum legibility.
The need to follow brand guidelines is another case in point which established the importance of understanding the difference between typeface and font.
Additionally, knowing the difference between the two can play a significant role not just in the area of Type Design, but also in Product Design, Product Engineering, and Web Design.
In general, the term ‘font’ is more commonly used to identify and define the text style. However, even if you are not a professional graphic designer or a typographer but, a business owner or a marketing professional who has to deal with design projects, it is always a good idea to have the clarity between the two terms.
One could argue that knowing the difference really doesn’t matter in most cases. But, when the distinction is important it could really help in making the desired impact with your designs.
You may choose a typefacebecause of its common aesthetic qualities. But, eventually, you will refine it down to a specific font by setting its size, weight, style, and sometimes the character set such as Roman, Cyrillic, or Greek when we use it.
We understand that all this can be really overwhelming to comprehend at first (or even later as well).
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