Font v Typeface (was tr v Helv)

Subject: Font v Typeface (was tr v Helv)
From: Fred Wersan <wersan -at- ZEUS -dot- MA30 -dot- BULL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 13:57:43 EST

As I understand it from my reading, a font is a given typeface in a given size.

Your definition uses this lang:
"a complete set of type of one size and face."

So, Helvetica 10 pt is one font, Helvetica 12 pt. is another font, and
Helvetica Italic 12 pt is a third.

When you are using real type, this is an important distinction. Nowadays I tend
to think of a font as just the typeface, like Helvetica. I use the computer to
change its size, to change the angle or boldness, etc., but I don't think of
that as changing the font.

When I look at an advertisement for a font pack, I will see something like
"25 Fonts ....." Then I look at the fine print and I see 7 versions of
8 of Times, etc. and I think, well, that's 3 fonts in a bunch of different

If you open up a word processor, such as WinWord and select Text|Font, you get
a list of names, not a list of names/sizes/and styles. It is not too much of a
stretch to predict that this will become the way people think of these terms.
There is nothing wrong with the change in meaning and I was just pointing it
out. However, there will be discontinuities as the meaning changes, resulting
in situations like my response to the hypothetical add above.

As professionals, I think we benefit from understanding the basics of typography
when we design manuals. Programs like FrameMaker and Interleaf use
typographic terminology in their documentation and paragraph construction
methods (kerning, spread, etc.) Until I put some effort into learning this
stuff, I
didn't know how to use some of the features of these applications. Now I have a
greater control over them and more resources at my disposal.

Fred Wersan
Bull HN Informations Systems
300 Concord Rd.
Billerica, Mass. 01821
f -dot- wersan -at- bull -dot- com

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