Font vs Typeface: Understanding the Difference

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Font vs Typeface: Understanding the Typography Terminology

Understanding the ins and outs of typography and appropriate font usage can be confusing at best and exhausting at worst. Not only must you learn the terms of this field, but you also need to become familiar with when it’s appropriate to use one term over another.

Specifically, two of the most common terms regarding typography that are interchanged are font and typeface. Unfortunately, this casual interchange between the two has created immense confusion for those who aren’t expert typographers and has resulted in the immense misuse of each term. As such, a new movement is forming to educate others about these two terms so the misuse can finally be put to bed and all in the typography world can once again be at peace.

Understanding Fonts

A font can be understood as a collection of letters, symbols or numbers such as bold, roman, or italic characters. A font is what you actually use in your designs while a typeface is what you see. The word font actually derives from words fount or foundry from the olden days when letters were cast out of molten metal.

The Basics of Typefaces


A typeface is the way a font collection appears, or what you see. Popular typefaces include Arial and Times New Roman. A professional who designs typefaces has traditionally been called a typographer. However, with the rise of desktop publishing, the title of this professional has transformed into font developer.

The drawback of this title transformation to font developer is that it only adds to the font and typeface confusion. This may mean that another title transformation may need to occur to reduce the overall confusion in the typography world.

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