Font / Type Terms Demystified

What is a font?


A font is a complete collection of letters, characters, and numbers within a particular typestyle. Letters, numbers, and symbols in consistent type-weight and typestyle make up a complete set (type family) of a distinctive design of printing type such as Ariel, Helvetica, Times Roman and thousands others. Most typefaces are available in different typestyles (roman, italic, bold, extra bold, condensed, etc.) and are chosen for a particular piece of text on the basis of (1) legibility, (2) readability, (3) appropriateness for the audience and the message, (4) reproducibility, and (5) practicality. Insider Tip: Only use comic sans when…what am I saying? Never use comic sans—EVER!

 What is a typeface?


A typeface consists of the full range of characters that make up an entire font family. Yes, even fonts have families. And they all have that one crazy uncle, too.

What is typography?


Typography is the art form of designing with type. And, no, it has nothing to do with all the errors you make when you type.

What are Google Fonts and can an I use them in Word and on a Mac and the Web?

google fonts

The water fountains outside the Googleplex in Mountain View, Ca. Just kidding! Google Fonts are actually a huge collection of free and open-source (i.e., you won’t get sued for using them). They have beautiful fonts that can be used in text editors like Microsoft Word, on websites, and by skilled graphic designers in their wonderful Adobe world.

There are beautiful Sans Serif fonts that are meant for headlines, such as Fjalla One or Anton, as well as Sans Serif font families that you have italics, bold, bold italics and more such as Montserrat, Fira Sans, and Fira Sans Condensed, and Nunito Sans. These can take the place of Arial, Helvetica, and the like.

Then there are Serif fonts that put Times Roman to shame. Examples are Maitree, Taviraj, and Neuton.

What is OpenType?

open type

OpenType format (OTF) is one of the few type formats that play well with both Mac and Windows. The technical deets is that allows an Adobe PostScript (PS) file to be part of a TrueType font (TTF) file. Microsoft works best with TTF and Macs with PS files so OTF is a perfect combo. Can’t we all just get along?

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