Typography – Typefaces vs fonts

We all agree that the text style you use on your website, advertising and logo all go to help building up the physical attributes of your brand but there is some confusion between typefaces and fonts. We work with some amazing designers at Consortium and they really know which are the best fonts to use – or should I say typefaces – and there lies the problem!

The terms typeface and font are used pretty interchangeably these days, but they are in fact two distinctly separate things.

A font is what you use, a typeface is what you see

But what does that actually mean and what is the difference between a font and a typeface?

Typeface vs font

Before the digital age the difference was much clearer. Printing was a laborious task, with typesetters individually laying out the different letters in a page. Each letter was a physical metal block. The Type Face was the style of the lettering. So, for example if you wanted to use Garamond that was the Type Face but for every different point size and weight you would need a separate subset of letter blocks – these are the fonts.

So, another example would be

Times New Roman – is the typeface but Times New Roman Bold 11pt is the font, and what’s more Times New Roman Bold 11pt would be considered an entirely different font to Times New Roman Bold 12pt

John Brownlee a design writer explains it perfectly with “The difference between a font and a typeface is the same as that between songs and an album. The former makes up the latter”

As desktop publishing became more commonplace and ease in which fonts are scaled up and down the difference has been lost and only designers really differentiate between the terms, but it is worth keeping in mind when setting your brand guidelines or briefing a designer.


If you would like to talk to us about and branding or design projects you have coming up please get in touch.

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