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Please clarify jargon; Font/Typeface/Font Family[edit]

I have a good familiarity with the concepts for a layman, but the definitions are difficult to figure out:

If I want to discuss Helvetica, including all point sizes, bold, italic, etc., what am I discussing? It does not seem to fit any of the terms:

  • Typeface: "... a visual appearance or style not immediately reducible to any one foundry's production or proprietary control."
  • Font: "... 8-point Caslon is one font, and 10-point Caslon is another."
  • Font Family: "Times is a font family, whereas Times Roman, Times Italic and Times Bold are individual fonts making up the Times family." (That doesn't match the definition of font, above). 21:30, 21 March 2007 (UTC)

Helvetica is a typeface. There are numerous fonts of Helvetica, such as 18-pt Helvetica 55, 36-pt Helvetica 95, etc. When referring to a number of different fonts, or the body of variations within the face, this is the font family. Typeface and family are similar concepts, however the face refers to the overall general style, while the family usually is referring to the multiple variations within the face (italics, bold, semibold, etc). It is a little confusing. In common parlance, 'font' means the same thing as typeface, or refers to a specific digital file on your computer (which may or may not include italics/bold variations, and usually contains multiple pt sizes). Hope this helps.-Andrew c 21:47, 21 March 2007 (UTC)
Thanks Andrew. A few points:
  1. What I forgot to say was, if I don't understand it -- and I know a good amount about the subject for a layperson -- then it seems unlikely that novice readers will understand it, so some revision might help.
  2. When you say "Helvetica is a typeface", doesn't that contradict the article which defines it as, "a visual appearance or style not immediately reducible to any one foundry's production or proprietary control." AFAIK, Helvetica (and if not Helvetica, then many other typefaces) is subject to one foundry's control. Perhaps the article needs revision?
  3. To clarify: Font family is a superset of typeface, which is a superset of fonts?
  4. Proposed for the article (but someone with expertise needs to vet it):
For example, when someone says they are using Helvetica 14 point, and Helvetica Italic 14 point, then,
  • The font family is Helvetica.
  • The typefaces are Helvetica and Helvetica Italic.
  • The fonts are Helvetica 14 point, and Helvetica Italic 14 point. 03:22, 22 March 2007 (UTC)
In response to User's statement of "typefaces", yes, a typeface is Helvetica. However, Helvetica Italic is a typestyle. 21:12, 5 May 2008 (UTC)
I follow most, but not all, of CApitol3's statement below. However, if CApitol3 could write some text for the article, I think it would solve the problem. 18:09, 24 March 2007 (UTC)

To me, the comments in by SirPavlova seem like the ones that were verified by other comments later on the page. He defines them by example:

  • Typeface family: Georgia
  • Typeface: Georgia Italic
  • Font: georgiai.ttf

HTH TimNelson (talk) 03:43, 26 March 2010 (UTC)

The above definitions are neither correct nor common usage. Nobody uses the term "typeface family"; "type family" would be correct. "Typeface" is roughly a synonym for "type family." In current usage, "font" does not include point size. I actually did a survey on this subject a year ago, including both expert and non-expert users [1] [2] Thomas Phinney (talk) 22:07, 27 March 2010 (UTC)

The opening of this article has at some point become a mess. The second and third sentences of the opening paragraph are simply incorrect, as they are definitions of "font" rather than "typeface." They are in direct contradiction of the section of the article under "terminology" as well. I am committing some appropriate major revision of these two sentences. Thomas Phinney (talk) 19:47, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

The opening of this page still seems problematic to me -- coming from the perspective of book arts & letterpress printing, a font (historically and still today) is a box/bundle/container of type - i.e. " 8-point Caslon Italic [is not] one font" rather, a printer or print shop purchases a font of 8-point Caslon Italic from a foundry (still true today - although fewer and fewer people think of a printer as a person). It's worth noting also that the word "font" does not occur much (if at all) in books on typography that pre-date digital typesetting I am not arguing for historical revisionism regarding the semantic drift of the word 'font', but the article could use a short section on the change of nomenclature that references the main article about the traditional meaning of "font" -- illovich (talk) 15:20, 22 September 2016 (UTC)


In the sentence "When specified in typographic sizes (points, kyus), the height of an em-square, an invisible box which is typically a bit larger than the distance from the tallest ascender to the lowest descender, is scaled to equal the specified size." there is a mention of em-square. Does this refer to em? Or em-quad? Both perhaps? I think this wording could be better since it's quite incomprehensible to laymen - as me. --Best regards, Biblbroks (talk) 19:16, 30 August 2010 (UTC)

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Lots more pictures[edit]

I've just added a lot more images. My goal (basically) is that everything important in the article has a big picture representing it with a good caption, where possible in the same style (black letters, white background) and same width of picture. And if typefaces are works of art, this article should feel like a gallery... I've tended to make the images I've put in myself since I found that quicker than hunting in Wikimedia for images that fit the text. Let me know if you have any objections, or think you can find better images from anywhere. Blythwood (talk) 17:48, 1 January 2015 (UTC)