Okay, in this day and age, the terms Typeface and Font are often used interchangeably. Even I am guilty of this. To understand the origins of both words, we’d have to go back in time wherein we still use metal blocks dipped in ink to put each letter on paper to produce a “printed” document. This was way before computers. IKR, thanks to technology, we now have modern printers that can print us anything we want in an instant. No mess, no inks, no metal blocks.
Anyway, I’m not really here to talk about printers and the history of Graphic Design (yet? Maybe some other time). So for now, let’s get to the point.
So, what is the difference between a Typeface and a Font? To make it easier for you to understand, here is an example:
As you can see, Montserrat is the Typeface (aka font family). Font is each variation of the Typefaceso in that case Montserrat Regular 9pt is a different font from Montserrat Bold 14pt.
Basically, Montserrat is the family; it’s composed of Montserrat Thin, Montserrat Light, Montserrat Regular, Montserrat Medium, Montserrat Bold, Montserrat Extra Bold, and Montserrat Black (in this analogy, the children) which has varying weights, widths, and sizes.
So, who cares?
Honestly, I don’t. As I’ve mentioned, even I am guilty of it; especially when conversing with clients. More often than not, clients, if not their projects, are in a rush. They won’t really enjoy being sat down and told about the differences between a Typeface and a Font. That’s not to say all clients are like that. Of course, some of them have been in the industry for years and are well-informed. But not all of them, and that’s okay. Why?
Because it’s become quite normal for it to be used interchangeably nowadays. Remember how I said that we used to have metal blocks for each letter before? Each font was stored in a separate case to avoid mix up. For example, Montserrat Thin would be kept in a different case from Montserrat Regular. I mean, that would only make sense, right? Now that we can change fonts with one click, people don’t care much for technicality anymore.
BUT, here comes the big but, this is something typographers would care about; so as a Graphic Designer or at least an enthusiast, I think it is important to know the background of these kind of things as well. Also, it’s a cool information to remember and it might come in handy someday.