The difference between font and typeface

Often for new web designers, there is a confusion between the distinction between typefaces and fonts. The first thing that should be clarified is that the term typeface and font are not interchangeable. Even though most people use them interchangeably and I often find myself mixing the two up. Before digital typography, a typeface referred to the design of letters and numbers, while a font was mostly used to describe the actual piece of metal, arranged in cases and were marketed and sold as a family. Justin Seeley, a graphic design educator, explains the difference succinctly. Typefaces are like families, and those families contain several different family members known as fonts.

The typeface that is used on my website, Bailey Street Design is called FS Albert. The FS Typeface family consists of nine family members or fonts; Bold, Bold Italic, Extrabold, Italic, Light, Light Italic, Regular, Thin, Thin Italic. The typefaces that most people would recognise are Times New Roman, Helvetica, Garamond, Times New Roman, or Courier.

Typeface Albertus
Poster of the Typeface of Berhold Wolpe

Just to make it even more confusing typefaces are divided up into different classifications such as serif, sans-serif and monospace, script and decorative.

Monospace

The monospace typeface is often called a fixed pitch, or non-proportional, and its letter and characters each occupy the same amount of horizontal space. Monospaced typefaces are useful when columns of characters must align vertically or when we may want to create the ‘look and feel of an old-fashioned typewriter based typeface.

Serif

A serif typeface has that extra stroke at the then end of the vertical and horizontal strokes. It is sometimes described as the small stroke at the beginning or end of the primary stroke in the formation of a letter, such as the flat lines at the bottom of the capital “A.”

Sans Serif

Sans serif typefaces lack the decorative feature os serif type – ‘sans’ is a French word meaning ‘without’. Popular ‘san serif’ typefaces include Arial and Verdana.

There are thousands of typefaces to choose from when designing for the web. It depends upon what typeface communicates most effectively the purpose and goal of your website.

teamSimon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown.  Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses.  Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment

 

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