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Fonts and Typefaces


The Art of Typography

The original meanings of the words 'Fonts' and 'Typefaces' have become blurred through common usage. Both now tend to be used to describe the various styles of letterforms available to designers and printers.



TYPEFACE ELEMENTS: bold, underline and Italic

The term 'Font' was originally used to identify the design elements in a typeface e.g. bold, underlined, or italic.

Bold type can add an emphasis or strength to a font.

Underlined type is an effective way of emphasizing the title of a document. It can also be used to call attention to an important section of text.

Italic type can also emphasise an important word or passage of text, but it tends to be used in a more informal context. Italic fonts have an animated style and are often selected for designs where there is a need to convey the illusion of speed and energy.




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.

Serif and Sans Serif

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.

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