Font vs typeface: the ultimate guide

Font vs typeface. A screengrab from FontShop that reads: 'Am I a typeface? Or am I a font?'
(Image credit: FontShop)

The font vs typeface debate is an example of how industry terminology can change over time, but still upset people if it's used in the non-traditional way. These days the words 'font' and 'typeface' are very often used interchangeably. And, in most cases that's just fine. Everyone knows what's being referred to and no confusion is caused. But, technically, there is actually a difference between a font and a typeface, and getting them mixed up could leave you red-faced.

So what's the difference, and which term should you be using? Here we'll exame the history of the font vs typeface debate to clear up any confusion. We'll look at the meanings of both in relation to graphic design and typography, and, hopefully, settle a few office arguments for people in the process. Not fussed about the nuances of font vs typeface? Then just crack on with our pick of the best free fonts to expand your type resources.

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Garrick Webster

Garrick Webster is a freelance copywriter and branding specialist. He’s worked with major renewable energy companies such as Ecotricity and the Green Britain Group, and has helped develop award-winning branding and packaging for several distilleries in the UK, the US and Australia. He’s a former editor of Computer Arts magazine and has been writing about design, creativity and technology since 1995.

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