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Feb 10 / Trevor Torres

Font vs Typeface

When one thinks of the words font and typeface, it’s easy to assume that both of these terms are interchangeable.  After all, they both sound similar enough.  Font and type are  just different ways of referring to letters and characters, right?


Not exactly.


While there may be some debate on what exactly distinguishes a font from a typeface, it’s unanimous that they are in fact two separate ideas.


Here’s a brief explanation:

“the physical embodiment of a collection of letters, numbers, symbols, etc. (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) is a font. When referring to the design of the collection (the way it looks) you call it a typeface.”


So what does that mean?  Let’s use the analogy of an MP3 file vs a song:

“When you talk about how much you like a tune, you don’t say: “That’s a great MP3”. You say: “That’s a great song”. The MP3 is the delivery mechanism, not the creative work; just as in type a font is the delivery mechanism and a typeface is the creative work.”


Essentially, a typeface is the design, while the font is the collection of letters.  A font can be a part of a typeface, whereas the opposite cannot be said.  The typeface is the IDEA, whereas the font is the representation or display of that idea.

One Comment

  1. dan / Feb 11 2013

    hey trevor, great entry, tho it seems unfinished… the discovery of the MP3 analogy is perfect! keep going…

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