Typeface - What does typeface mean?
The terms typeface and font are often used interchangeably but they do have subtle differences. Historically speaking, typeface referred to a particular style and font referred to the size that the typeface was printed in. Early forms of printing used metal blocks, each of which represented a specific character, and a printer would have one set of metal blocks (one font) for each size that a particular design (one typeface) was available in. In this instance, Arial would be an example of a typeface and Arial point size 12 would be an example of a font.
With the arrival of digital printing, more and more styles became available and each style could easily be scaled to any font size, which meant the distinction between typeface and font began to blur. Today, typeface is usually used when referring to a particular design, which is available in many fonts. The font is a file or set of characters (with a very specific set of characteristics, including weight, style, and width) used to create text in a specific style, while the typeface is the design or look that is shared by those fonts. A commonly used metaphor is that of a song and an mp3; the song is the typeface, while the mp3 is the font (a particular recording that represents the song, which was created using a specific set of characteristics, such as specific instruments and sound settings).Go Back to Glossary