Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Typeface and Font

Typeface vs Font

Nowadays, if you ask someone what a typeface is, you would probably get a blank stare. But if you ask anyone what a font is, you would likely get a fairly accurate answer. The advent of desktop publishing and the many word processors has raised the recognition level of fonts far beyond that of typeface. In truth, a font is basically just a small subset of a typeface. A typeface is basically a single design that is uniformly implemented across all printable characters like letters, numbers, punctuation, and even symbols that can be used. Variants of a typeface are referred to as fonts.

This concept is more easily understood by means of an example. Arial, which many of us recognize as a very popular font, is actually a typeface. Variants of Arial, like Arial Bold, Arial Narrow, Arial Italic, are the fonts. You see, you still have the basic design of Arial but modified to be slightly different from the typical appearance of Arial.

In the old days, a font is supposed to also be of a fixed point size. So Arial Bold size 12 is supposed to be a different font from Arial Bold size 14. This was very important when printing involved discrete metal blocks of each character in order to prevent mix-ups and ensuring that the print uses a uniform font design and size. But with computers, size is largely arbitrary as you can easily scale the size of each character into the size that you need. The point size of characters is now irrelevant to the font in use.

If you want to be very accurate, a correct example of a font would be Arial Bold 12. While not very accurate, Arial Bold is still fairly acceptable as a font. Arial, on the other hand, is not a font but a typeface.

The distinction between a font and a typeface is no longer very clear in the minds of ordinary people. Although the differences would still be there, the use and intended purpose would no longer be applicable to modern users. In the end, the differences between a font and a typeface would end up only as an academic topic.


1.A font is just a subset of typeface.
2.A font is the designation used for specific members of a typeface family.
3.A font is supposed to be of a specific size while a typeface doesn’t have to be.

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