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I use the exact opposite definition as Stephen and this fellow in the video. Their usage is both crude and technical. As someone who does a fair bit of type design, typography, lettering, calligraphy and carving in stone, I'm really content to call any old set of letters what my customers do: a font.
The reason is that regardless of the format there's usually some ideal model you're trying to achieve. I like the counter of an R to be a certain size, I like the stroke to be balanced in a certain way and I like it to hit the stem just south of the midline. Every attempt regardless of media is a finely calibrated approximation of this ideal.
Often in the process of a single piece, I'll switch between techniques. First I might write out an inscription with a nib, and next use a type I've made to iterate through designs, then paint them onto stone. After that I'll carve and then, occasionally more paint. The resulting letter is a combination of things. I call the style a font like every layperson.
You might consider this ideal a sort of design and one that simply exists in various instances. Here Stephen suggests a clear definition. But to call this ideal a typeface is preposterous. 'Typeface' refers literally to a technology of production, the face of a piece or pieces of type. To call my Roman hand a typeface would be silly, but a font, fine.
And so, knowing full well the terminology of the type shop and practicing many crafts even older, I think a font is any set of letters, and a typeface is a set in which those letters repeat.
Keystone Law, A simple introduction to Font Licensing, said:
In fact, it is very easy to confuse typefaces with fonts. A typeface is a collection of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and the like, all of which have a common and distinctive design. This is what you see on the screen of your computer/mobile device or in written material like a magazine or advertisement. So what we are really choosing when we are typing a letter in a word processor is the typeface that we want to use.A font, on the other hand, is what is used to create the typeface. Once upon a time, a font would have been the lead alloy or wooden block used to create each of the characters, but today fonts exist as small software programs that create and display typefaces.
In fact, it is very easy to confuse typefaces with fonts. A typeface is a collection of letters, numbers, punctuation marks, symbols and the like, all of which have a common and distinctive design. This is what you see on the screen of your computer/mobile device or in written material like a magazine or advertisement. So what we are really choosing when we are typing a letter in a word processor is the typeface that we want to use.
A font, on the other hand, is what is used to create the typeface. Once upon a time, a font would have been the lead alloy or wooden block used to create each of the characters, but today fonts exist as small software programs that create and display typefaces.
For each license (or EULA), there are some interchangeable terms that may be used. The font may be referred to as the "font software" or even just "software". Whereas, the typeface may be referred to as the "design", "typographic design", or "ornament".
Some examples, to define the meaning of terms:
Some further examples, defining the terms of the agreement:
John Hudson said:but a font was originally all the pieces of type available to a typesetter to set text in a specific size: not a 'set of letters', but a set of repeated letters (and other characters) implementing a typeface.
I use that word, 'style', which is indeed sufficiently abstract and independent of any specific technology of production of either the letters themselves or of text.
I’m afraid there
will never be consensus about this. I agree with Chris Lozos.
For me, a typeface (=
font family) is a family of fonts (= family of styles). A font is a single
style. A style is a specific weight, width, slant, etc. On a computer, a font
usually coincides with a single file. In the future, with a “variable font”, a
typeface may coincide with a single file.
A typeface can be
called a “family”, because all members of that family show a family
resemblance: they are all variations of the same general design. (This general design, which can only exist in someone’s mind, can also
be called “typeface”.) There is one weird exception to this: It is customary to consider italic
styles which are not variations of the
general design of a typeface, to be part of this typeface.
I think that
in real life, a family can consist of one person. With a typeface, it’s the
same: a typeface can consist of just one font. So I disagree with Nick’s
suggestion that “family” cannot be used to define a typeface. (However, it’s smart
to call a typeface that consists of one font—a “font”.)
Only in my font
license, a font is defined as software (intended to generate the
characters of a ‘font face’). The reason for this is that only when a
font is defined as software, it is licensable. Other than in this special legal
definition, a font is not software for me.
I’m afraid that sometimes in practice—I use “font” and “typeface”
John, just after I edited
my last post—by adding “one weird exception”—I saw your post appear. There may
be more exceptions than that “weird exception”—so indeed, in practice, not all
members of a font family may be variations of the same general design. However,
I still believe that the idea of a “general design”, is helpful to define what
a font family or typeface is. Without such an idea, the only reason left to
explain why members of a font family are members of that family, may be that it
is customary, or that it is just the choice of the designer or foundry.
To me, “Times New
Roman Bold” and “Times New Roman Regular”, are both variations of the same
general design. There may be some glyphs with differences, and many details may
be different, but that doesn’t lead to the conclusion that they belong to
different general designs. I would say that a “general design” is general—not
about details, and not about individual glyphs. I would really be surprised, if
many people would agree that “Times New Roman Bold” and “Times New Roman Regular” have a different general design. But this may be—as with beauty—in the
eye of the beholder.
My sister really looks different than me—but she still belongs to the
John Hudson said:
I don't disagree with the ideas you are describing, only with your labelling. If typeface means family, then we don't need one or other of the words. I use family to mean a typeface family, i.e.a family of typefaces. I really don't see a reason to have a word that means both an individual typeface and a typeface family.
A font file like “Helvetica.otf”
can be used to create a physical representation of a design, but is not a bunch
of physical letters (etc.) itself.
I would general agree with all this, except that I think "Font Family" is not really a proper term, although it is sometimes used as synonym of "Typeface Family" in general (not careful) usage, the same way "Font" has become a synonym of "Typeface".
Vasil Stanev said:
Alex I always thought of a Typeface family in matter of expanding the design of a single Typeface, itself based on some idea, revival, or something else. Then there is the Type System, in which various typefaces are harmonized with one or more non-letter typedfaces, like Panton, which was designed in our company to incorporate web icons and letter typedfaces. There are Super Familes, but I have not yet heard of a Super System.
Mark Simonson said:The word "font" originally meant a spring or fountain, a source of something. In typography, it means a collection (source) of type, originally a single typeface and point size.