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be a typographist in your spare time

Author: JLB

Published On: November 24, 2008

For this blog post, I decided to start a series focusing on typography.  Everyday designers use an element of design that may be taken for granted by most people; an element that I personally find most beautiful. This morning I received an e-mail consisting of typefaces from a company that sells them. I opened the e-mail in a separate window and for the rest of the day looked back at the images of new fonts for sale. We’ll get into letterforms and why I think they’re so wonderful eventually, but for now, I think the best place to start is terminology…

What is a letterform? The letterform is really the graphical “face” of an individual letter. It’s the difference in letter design that separates a script font from a serif font.

What is a typeface? A typeface is a set of letters, numbers, punctuation marks and other random glyphs that are all designed to work together as a group. Not to be confused with our next term…

What is a font? A font refers to a typestyle within the typeface. Bold, italic and regular (or sometimes roman) are considered three different fonts but still one typeface.

What is a serif? And what’s the difference between serif and san serif typefaces? A serif is a small detail that you find at the foot or base of some letterforms in a typeface. Some people refer to the serif as “feet.” Sometimes they’re called “cross strokes.” This one can be hard to explain without an illustration…serif illustration
(I used Minion for the serif and Myriad for the sans serif.)

One of the more common serif typefaces is Times New Roman. San serif typefaces don’t have those little details…or feet. A common sans serif typeface (and probably the most well known typeface among non designers) is Helvetica.

That’s probably enough definitions for now. If you have something you’d like to add…please comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading.


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