Re: Times Roman 'N' Helvetica

Subject: Re: Times Roman 'N' Helvetica
From: Steve Fouts <sfouts -at- ELLISON -dot- SC -dot- TI -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 4 Nov 1993 13:52:17 CST

|} >I think lots of writers have leapt into the brave new world of DTP and
|} >font capability with little background in typography. For example, most of
|} >(and Windows program menu options further this) say font when we mean
|} >A minor quibble, but indicative of our disconnection from the source of this
|} >terminology.
|} >Fred Wersan
|} >Bull HN Informations Systems
|} Fred,
|} I'm not clear on the distinction between font and typeface. I looked up
|} the two words in the American Heritage Dictionary, which defines font as:
|} "a complete set of type of one size and face." It defines typeface as "1a.
|} The surface of a block of type that makes the impression, b. the impression
|} made by this surface; 2. the size or style of the letter or character on a
|} block of type; 3. the full range of type of the same design."
|} Seems like the definitions are similar. How would you distinguish their use?

A font used to be a collection of type of a single size and design. In terms of
physically setting type, a font was a wooden drawer that held, for example,
Times roman 9pt. type. A typeface was a collection of the same design in various
sizes, say Times roman in sizes from 6 to 72 pt. A type _family_ was a
of related typefaces, such as Helvetica Medium, Helvetica Medium Italic,
Bold Italic.

With digital type, the need to keep these terms separate and distinct has faded
somewhat. Especially since the advent of outline style typefaces that are
infinitely sizable. Many times you will see the word font used to refer to what
used to be called a typeface, for example, a particular brand of laser printer
comes with 17 _fonts_ installed. What it actually has installed is:

Courier in roman, italic, bold, and bold italic (4)
Helvetica in roman, italic, bold, and bold italic (4)
Helvetica Narrow in roman, italic, bold, and bold italic (4)
Times in roman, italic, bold, and bold italic (4)
and Symbols (1)

So there are really 17 typefaces in four font families, and with fractional font
sizing available, a meaninglessly large number of "fonts." To add to the
there are now literally millions of people out there using these terms on a
basis who have no idea what the terms really mean.

Since the word "font" is short and easy to say, I think that you will continue
to see
the distinction between font and typeface erode, despite the hardwork of folks

******************** Steve Fouts
* _ ___ * sfouts -at- ellison -dot- sc -dot- ti -dot- com
* ( |____| *
* _ /\ |\ _ * "a little inaccuracy sometimes saves tons of
* / / \ _| \ \ * explanation."
* ( * ) \/_|__* ) * --H. H. Munro
* \_/ _/ \_/ * <Boilerplate disclaimer here>

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