Ever tried to talk about or pick a font and realize you don’t know what to look for or which terms to use? Then this guide is for you. We’ll cover the very basics of fonts and typefaces, from definitions to their parts and uses.
Lesson #1 – Font v. Typeface
The most common non-designer mistake is to assume that “fonts” and “typefaces” are interchangeable. A typeface is a particular styling of letters while fonts are the variations of a typeface. You can think of it in terms of shapes. A square and a diamond are both quadrangles (four-sided shapes). In this scenario, “quadrangles” is the typeface and both “squares” and “diamonds” are fonts.
Lesson #2 – Parts of a typeface
There are many different terms describing the positioning and specific parts of letters in a typeface. We’ll discuss the most common below in simple, everyday terms:
Alignment: Where the text lines up. Left-aligned (like this post) means every line of text lines up on the left. Same for the right, except text aligns on the right. Centered means the middle of each line aligns in the center (like many titles). Justified (also called fully-justified) means that the text “stretches” to line up on both the left and right sides.
Character: A single letter (p), punctuation mark (!), symbol (@), or space ( ).
Serif/Sans Serif: A serif is a little “foot” or “wing” on a character. Typefaces are classified as either “serif” or “sans serif”. “Sans” is the French word for “without”, making sans serif fonts those without serifs.
Leading: The name is misleading, because it’s pronounced “ledding”. Leading is the space between lines of text. You’re probably most familiar with its use when you select “single” or “double” spacing in a Word document.
Lesson #3 – Uses of Fonts
Size, spacing, thickness, serif or sans serif, and the styling of the letters are all contributing factors to the choice and use of fonts. Different fonts set different tones and convey different moods.
It is important to remember, though, that many typefaces, such as Broadway, are only appropriate in certain settings and in small doses.
When designing a logo, letterhead, flyer, etc., designers try to stick to one or two typefaces.
Fonts and typefaces, as well as other aspects of graphic design, require a thorough understanding and artistic touch. If you need help with logo design, advertisements, and other graphic design work, do not hesitate to contact The Belford Group. We’d love to hear from you. Give us a call at 479.443.9945 and visit our website portfolios to see previous work.
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