#151 - Feature: Fonts

2 minute read

Motto: It's not what you say or how you say it; it's what it looks like.

This Column is mostly a list of related definitions. It started out as a paragraph exhausting my knowledge of fonts, but wound up being an entire research project. Learning something new about what I see and use every day was interesting and a little fun. Hopefully it's half as good as a second hand experience. I wrote this yesterday, but wasn't able to post it. Without further ado, let's get started! "Typeface" is what people usually think of when they think of the word "Font". "Times" is a typeface, not a font. "Font" refers only to the size, weight, and style of a particular typeface. "Italic, 10-point Times" is a different font than "bold 11-point Times", despite sharing a common typeface. The word "glyph", when referred to in the context of typography, refers to any given character. Technically speaking, I think keyboards are full of glyphs, not characters. However, I will use the two interchangeably, "Weight" refers to the thickness of a glyph. Bold = heavy weight. "Point" is a unit of measure supposedly equal to 1/72nd of an inch. In theory, if you were to measure the distance between the top of an "h" and the bottom of a "p" of a printed off 12-point font, it should be 1/6th inch. There are two main typographical categories: serif and sans serif.

"Serif" refers to the small design elements at the end of the strokes making up each glyph. Sometimes serif typefaces are referred to as "Roman"; and I don't generally prefer them.

"Sans serif" fonts don't have any fanciness at their points - they are literally without serif. They are sometimes referred to as "Gothic"; and I think they look cleaner.

"Serif/sans serif" is not my favorite typographical distinction, though. My favorite distinction revolves around character width.

Typefaces using glyphs of varying widths are referred to as being "proportional". Since most typefaces are proportional, the distinction is usually not explicitly stated.

On the other side of that coin are "monospace" typefaces. In a monospace typeface, such as Courier, the "w" and "i" characters are the same width. This can be awkward, though, because "i" and "w" shouldn't take up the same amount of space. What's cool about monospace typefaces is that characters on different rows of text will always vertically line up with each other. Any given string of 10 characters will be the same length, and that can be useful.

Nobody likes Comic Sans.

Top 5: My Favorite Typefaces
5. Bookman Old Style - the only serif font on this list (I cannot reproduce this typeface for the column)
4. Lucida Console (again, cannot reproduce)
3. Eurostile (again, cannot reproduce)
2. Trebuchet MS
1. Verdana - the default typeface of the Column

"I'm surprised you didn't write about Pi day." - What I would say to me after learning what I wrote about on 3/14 -