Sunday, May 30, 2010

A Whole Lotta Type Talk

While most people spend Memorial Day weekend at the beach or the park or some place outdoors, I've been indoors overloading on type terminology. The above image is my brain on type. When I left off yesterday, I understood the font vs. typeface division (mechanical vs. design) but I wasn't clear about the definition of a typeface.

According to the FontFeed (sanctioned by Erik Spiekermann), when a regular user talks about a typeface they include all of its basic variations and sometimes its widths and weights, however, "strictly speaking" each of these variations are separate typefaces. I have decided to join the ranks of the purists.

Here's an expanded definition of what one contributor calls the four Fs:

Family: a collection of related typefaces which share common design traits and a common name.

Face: any variant (the type style) of this coordinated design to include weight and width but not size.

Font: a typeface at a specific size and in a particular format.

Foundry: a manufacturer of type. (This may or may not include the designer, but I'm not going there.)

This means that Gotham Thin, Extra Light, Light, Book, Medium, Bold, Black, Ultra, and all of the Italic, Narrow, and Condensed versions are separate typefaces belonging to the type family Gotham. And with that, I am closing down my laptop and going outside.


Vacant Lot Design said...

Yeah, this is about as close you will get to an answer, and I would totally agree with it...

But as time goes on and people become more accustomed to using different terms and technologies it will change. The lines will become even more blurred as certain kinds of code and apps, especially ones used for the internet, use the word font when they mean typeface and vice-versa. Much like the english language changes, and the use of the comma and semi-colon are sometimes subjective, so too will the use of the terms typeface and font.


Leslie in Adams Morgan said...

yeah, I hear ya. (Usually I rethink my use of semi-colons and commas before I post but this time, I just let em fly. I'll go back and fix them later.)