Join Justin Seeley for an in-depth discussion in this video Understanding fonts and typefaces, part of Introduction to Graphic Design.
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- [Voiceover] One of the more confusing things about typography, especially for new designers, is the distinction between typefaces and fonts. In this movie, I'm going to break down the difference between a typeface and a font, and I'll also provide you with some examples of the fonts that I use most often in my own workflow. The first thing you need to understand about typefaces and fonts is that the terms are not interchangeable. Even though most people use them interchangeably in everyday conversation, there's a very distinct difference between the two. I like to think of it like this. Typefaces are like families, and those families contain several different family members known as fonts.
Let's take a look at it in a more simplified manner. Meet the Helvetica family. You've got Mrs. Helvetica Regular, Mr. Helvetica Bold, their daughter, Helvetica Light, and the baby of the family, Helvetica Oblique. Together they make up the Helvetica family or typeface. However, separately they each represent an individual font within the typeface family. That means when you see terms like Helvetica, Futura, Garamond, Times New Roman, or Courier, you're actually referring to typefaces.
It's only when you start adding in things like size and style attributes like Helvetica Bold 24 point, for example, that you can actually call something a font. In addition to the names that we give individual typefaces, we also have different classifications of typefaces as well. These include sans-serif, serif, and monospaced. Serif typefaces look like this, and they have small flares that extend off of different parts of the letters like you see here. Sans-serif typefaces are more blocky, and they don't have the flares like serifs do.
Monospaced typefaces oftentimes will appear similar to a serif font, but the main differentiator is always how much physical space each character takes up. With typefaces like Baskerville, notice how the letters are proportional and each take up a unique amount of space whereas the monospaced Courier typeface underneath gives each character an equal amount of space between it and the next character in the word. For letters that aren't quite thick like lowercase L's or I's, extra whitespace is added in order to give the characters a uniform appearance across that span of text.
I'm often asked what my favorite typefaces are when I'm designing. While that answer will almost always vary depending on what type of project I'm working on, I did manage to put together my top 10 list for this course. So first up, number one, Arial. It's a very basic typeface. I understand. But it's one of the most common ones that I use all the time. Number two, Cabin. This is another sans-serif font. You're gonna find that I'm very partial to sans-serif fonts, mostly because of their readability in body copy.
Now, when I'm working on headings and things like that, I do tend to use serif fonts for those but only in moderation. Number three, Corbel, which is another really nice sans-serif typeface. Number four, Futura. This is a more condensed sans-serif typeface. I use this oftentimes for headings, and it's a really great typeface that has lots of unique properties like, for instance, the short stems on the letter T. It's also got a very sharp point on letters like M's and V's, and it's just a really interesting typeface to use.
Number five, Georgia, one of my favorite serif typefaces that exists. Number six, Gotham. This is becoming sort of the designer's new Helvetica. And in my opinion, it's getting a little bit overexposed, meaning that a lot of people are using it in a lot of places. That being said, it's still a really great typeface, and it does go right in line with Helvetica which is number seven on my list. Now, this is, of course, the typeface that everybody uses. You can see Helvetica in use on street signs, business cards, billboards.
Every day you probably see an example of Helvetica somewhere. That's why it's one of the most popular typefaces that's ever been invented. Number eight, League Gothic. This is a great headline font and one that you'll see me use quite often. League Gothic is very condensed, making it easy for you to have longer headlines fit within a constrained amount of space. It does get a little hard to read when you use all caps though. So I would take caution when using this in that case. Number nine, Myriad or Myriad Pro, both of which I like a lot.
This is a great typeface that falls right in line with Helvetica, Arial, those kind of typefaces. Very good for body copy and it's one of the standard typefaces that comes with a lot of software and operating systems. The last one is one that you've been seeing throughout these presentations in this chapter a lot, Rockwell. It's an interesting serif typeface. It's got more of a slab-serif appearance to it. I really like it when it comes to headings, and obviously, for slides in Keynote and PowerPoint presentations as well.
There are literally thousands of typefaces to choose from out there. Ultimately, it comes down to what typeface fits the project and what font from that typeface is appropriate for each facet of your design. I just hope that you have a better understanding now of the difference between fonts and typefaces so that as you continue your design education you aren't confused and so you can speak intelligently about the subject when you're conversing with other designers in your field. Believe me, as often as people mistakenly use these terms, it'll be a breath of fresh air to other designers to hear you use them correctly.
Note: These tutorials were revised in 2016 to make sure they are current with the latest version of Adobe Creative Cloud. Mini Bridge was retired this year, so Justin uses alternate methods to open and organize assets.
- Understanding the impact of color
- Sketching your ideas
- Removing unwanted objects from images
- Cropping and editing photos in Photoshop
- Resizing and saving images for print
- Drawing basic shapes in Illustrator
- Creating a custom color theme with swatches
- Setting type
- Building wireframes
- Creating tables in InDesign
- Preflighting documents
- Packaging files for print