By Sebastien Hayez. Published June 15, 2023

Typeface VS Font

Typeface vs Font:
Explaining the Difference and Why it Matters

In the professional world, it is not uncommon to hear graphic designers mistakenly use terms with wrong meanings. The young graphic designer or the student will perhaps have a little more knowledge, as the teaching tends to be a little more rigorous today.

Typography, Type, Typeface or Font ? One might tend to think of them as synonyms, but they are all quite different. If ever in previous articles you've noticed errors on our part, mea culpa. It won't happen again.

First of all, in order to understand these lexical subtleties, we must keep in mind that typography was for 500 years a set of movable typefaces, made of lead alloy or wood for the largest typefaces.

Thus, the vocabulary is inherited from printing practices before moving into the digital and screen domains.

The following definitions are all from the Cambridge Dictionary.


1. The design of the writing in a piece of printing or on a computer screen.

2. The style and size of the letters used in printing.
Ex.: Good typography adds to an advertisement's impact.

Type: printed letters

The style and size of printed letters used in a piece of printed writing such as in a newspaper, book, or article

Ex.: Use bold type for your headings.

Ex.: The software allows you to choose from over 20 styles of typeface.

Typeface: letters and numbers in a particular design, used in printing or on a computer screen.

Font: a set of printed letters, numbers, and other symbols of the same style.

The printer can produce a variety of fonts in virtually any type size.

Glyph: element of a type corresponding to a writing sign (alphabet, syllabary, ideogram, phonogram), to a ligature (st, ct, ff, fi, etc.), to an ornament, a logotype or an image. In short, it is a font box in the glyphset.

To be clear !

Typography is the art of composing a text with typographic characters, of choosing their sizes, their weights, their width, their arrangement in the surface of the support.

A type is a typographic style. Several types can be grouped in a typeface, a typographic family.
Avril is a typeface avaiable in 5 types, but the variable version is a single font file.

Similarly, a typographer is a person who chooses and assembles typefaces and types to make text appealing, readable, impactful, etc.

A Type designer is the person who imagines, draws and designs types or typefaces.

The punch-cutter was the person responsible for engraving the punches of each glyph, of each type of a typeface. From these punches, one was able to cast a font.

A font engeneer is the person who ensures the proper programming and functionality of the font, the digital file.

How to Design Font ?

To find a more complete lexicon, you can get our book How to Design Fonts?

Learn more about the book :

Get a physical copy here.