Font, TypeFace, TypeStyle, Typefamily, FontType? Whatever.

What is Typographically or Fontagraphically correct?

There is a universal confusion over the (anally) correct way to refer to the letters, characters, shapes, bitmaps, vectors we associate as being words. Frankly, does it really matter? Well, yes and no. Well actually yes it does, well to me it does anyway.

It’s not like the simple difference between VHS and Betamax, or Postscript and Truetype (although the latter causing immense confusion back in the day). Lets throw in the difference between Mac and PC for the hell of it, after all, they are both computers right? And fonts and typefaces are well, lettery type things. Well, you wouldn’t say fontery type things would you.

Centuries Old

These are terms that have been around for centuries and it was these experts who made it their passion and sole existence, who were ultimately qualified to use the correct terminology.

Say what?

Now we all have the potential to create letters and characters, yet we do so not even knowing the correct term of what it is we are creating.

Are we creating a font, a typeface, a typestyle or typefamily or even fonttype and finally what ‘type of font’. “That’s a lovely font from that typeface you created or was is a typestyle you created from the font that looks like that other typeface from the typefamily I saw last week?”

Terms now get bandied around in any possible number of combinations. People create new fonts, or is it a typeface, or even a typestyle from a typeface or font family. Pardon?

From my research on Google, to reading books, I have seen contradictions from those prestigious names that you would feel should at least be able to agree on the correct terminology. But alas no, even the most respected names seem to blur the definitions or contradict.

Just look at all the new fonts and or typefaces (etc) being created and named now on a daily basis, and the scope for confusion is even greater than it was a decade ago.


Even the so called definitive posts and articles that state ‘THIS IS THE ANSWER’ end up causing confusion and contradiction. Or maybe it’s because I’m such a cynic.

The lines have blurred since we had those marvelous bit of metal and lead that had distinct names. We have even font foundries and type foundries? One of the same or different? I guess depends who you ask and what side of the bed they got out of. Some people use and interchange font and typeface multiple times a day because they are just so confused.

Flip a coin. It’s easier.

My Opinion

I do have my own methology, that I was taught when I was working in letterpress, after school hours and I will keep to those guidelines, until I hear a collective and universal declaration of the correct terminology. I’m happy, it’s just everyone else. :)

To sum up

This post was not to clarify for you. In fact my grumpy mood today has made me want to confuse the hell out of everyone even more. So sue me.

Some links to satisfy you’re curiosity

Here are some possible links that may or may not help you.

  1. When is it wrong to call a typeface a font
  2. Font or Typeface
  3. They are not fonts
  4. Typeface or font
  5. Font vs Typeface
  6. Exten­sive survey on these def­i­n­i­tions
  7. Typeface – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  8. Font or Typeface? — TypeNeu: An Odyssey in Typography


Written by: Graham Smith: The Logo Smith
1st Posted: 2009/05/13 & Post Updated: 2014/05/09
Filed In Categories: Books, Typography

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