The term 'Typeface' was originally used to identify a family of fonts.
'Century' is a typeface. The fonts above are all members of the 'Century' family. Their height is measured in points - the standard unit for printed text. There are about 72 points to one inch.
Although the above fonts are all the same height, note how their breadth varies according to their style. Some fonts are more suited to fitting into a confined area of a design, while others like to spread themselves out.
There are two main font types: serif and sans-serif.
Serifs are the extended corners at the ends of a letter and like all good design, they evolved naturally. They originated in the stone-carved letters of the Ancient Romans. Stone masons discovered that it was technically easier to finish chiseling the ends of a letter in a slow curve. Not only did serifs look more elegant but they were also very practical as they formed a natural channel for water or rain to flow away as it cleaned dust from the corners.
Serif fonts are the most legible and are commonly used for large blocks of text. Their wide horizontal baseline emphasises the line of text for the eye and makes reading more comfortable.
Sans-serif fonts are simply fonts without serifs ('sans' means 'without' in French). They are also sometimes called Gothic fonts.