What the Font: Fonts vs. Typeface

Oftentimes, “Typeface” and “Font” is incorrectly used interchangeably.

Before the digital era, typography existed through printing presses.  The printing press was one of the most significant inventions of the Middle Ages. It was invented in the mid-15th century (during the Renaissance period) by a German goldsmith named Johannes Gutenberg.  The idea was taken from “block-printing” of money from Asia.  The wooden blocks would often break after several uses so a more durable material was needed, which lead to the printing press.   The original printing press was operated by hand.   By creating set groups of type blocks together to make words and sentences within a frame these printing presses.

Typeface distinguished between the different variation of block lettering families that existed (ei..Times New Roman, Helvetica, Tahoma, etc.), Font was the distinction that characterized those typefaces (italicized, bold, underlined etc.)
Digital type became the dominant form of type in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Digital fonts store the image of each character either as a bitmap in a bitmap font, or by mathematical description of lines and curves in an outline font, also called a vector font. Bitmap fonts were more commonly used in the earlier stages of digital type, and are rarely used today.

Digital technologies have made the creation, distribution and use of typeface amazingly easy.  There is so much more information out there about the history of typeface –with incredible details, you can really go down a rabbit hole if you are interested in this subject.

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