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A typeface (or font family) is a design of letters, numbers and other symbols, to be used in printing or for electronic display.[1] Most typefaces include variations in size (e.g., 24 point), weight (e.g., light, bold), slope (e.g., italic), width (e.g., condensed), and so on. Each of these variations of the typeface is a font.


The art and craft of designing typefaces is called type design. Designers of typefaces are called type designers and are often employed by type foundries. In desktop publishing, type designers are sometimes also called "font developers" or "font designers". (A typographer is someone who uses typefaces to design a page layout.)

Every typeface is a collection of glyphs, each of which represents an individual letter, number, punctuation mark, or other symbol. The same glyph may be used for characters from different scripts, e.g. Roman uppercase A looks the same as Cyrillic uppercase А and Greek uppercase alpha. There are typefaces tailored for special applications, such as cartography, astrology or mathematics.

In professional typography,[a] the term typeface is not interchangeable with the word font (originally "fount" in British English, and pronounced "font"), because the term font has historically been defined as a given alphabet and its associated characters in a single size. For example, 8-point Caslon Italic was one font, and 10-point Caslon Italic was another. Historically, fonts came in specific sizes determining the size of characters, and in quantities of sorts or number of each letter provided. The design of characters in a font took into account all these factors.

As the range of typeface designs increased and requirements of publishers broadened over the centuries, fonts of specific weight (blackness or lightness) and stylistic variants (most commonly regular or roman as distinct to italic, as well as condensed) have led to font families, collections of closely related typeface designs that can include hundreds of styles. A font family is typically a group of related fonts which vary only in weight, orientation, width, etc., but not design. For example, Times is a font family, whereas Times Roman, Times Italic and Times Bold are individual fonts making up the Times family. Font families typically include several fonts, though some, such as Helvetica, may consist of dozens of fonts.

Another way to look at the distinction between font and typeface is that a font is the vessel (e.g. the software) that allows you to use a set of characters with a given appearance, whereas a typeface is the actual design of such characters.[2] Therefore, a given typeface, such as Times, may be rendered by different fonts, such as computer font files created by this or that vendor, a set of metal type characters etc. In the metal type era, a font also meant a specific point size, but with digital scalable outline fonts this distinction is no longer valid, as a single font may be scaled to any size.

Font superfamilies began to emerge when foundries began to include typefaces with significant structural differences, but some design relationship, under the same general family name. Arguably the first superfamily was created when Morris Fuller Benton created Clearface Gothic for ATF in 1910, a sans serif companion to the existing (serifed) Clearface. The superfamily label does not include quite different designs given the same family name for what would seem to be purely marketing, rather than design, considerations: Caslon Antique, Futura Black and Futura Display are structurally unrelated to the Caslon and Futura families, respectively, and are generally not considered part of those families by typographers, despite their names.

Additional or supplemental glyphs intended to match a main typeface have been in use for centuries. In some formats they have been marketed as separate fonts. In the early 1990s, the Adobe Systems type group introduced the idea of expert set fonts, which had a standardized set of additional glyphs, including small caps, old style figures, and additional superior letters, fractions and ligatures not found in the main fonts for the typeface. Supplemental fonts have also included alternate letters such as swashes, dingbats, and alternate character sets, complementing the regular fonts under the same family.[4] However, with introduction of font formats such as OpenType, those supplemental glyphs were merged into the main fonts, relying on specific software capabilities to access the alternate glyphs.

Digital type became the dominant form of type in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Digital fonts store the image of each character either as a bitmap in a bitmap font, or by mathematical description of lines and curves in an outline font, also called a vector font. Bitmap fonts were more commonly used in the earlier stages of digital type, and are rarely used today. These bitmapped typefaces were first produced by Casady & Greene, Inc. and were also known as Fluent Fonts. Fluent Fonts became mostly obsolete with the creation of downloadable PostScript fonts, and these new fonts are called Fluent Laser Fonts (FLF).

Typographers have developed a comprehensive vocabulary for describing the many aspects of typefaces and typography. Some vocabulary applies only to a subset of all scripts. Serifs, for example, are a purely decorative characteristic of typefaces used for European scripts, whereas the glyphs used in Arabic or East Asian scripts have characteristics (such as stroke width) that may be similar in some respects but cannot reasonably be called serifs and may not be purely decorative.

Typefaces can be divided into two main categories: serif and sans serif. Serifs comprise the small features at the end of strokes within letters. The printing industry refers to typeface without serifs as sans serif (from French sans, meaning without), or as grotesque (or, in German, grotesk).

Great variety exists among both serif and sans serif typefaces. Both groups contain faces designed for setting large amounts of body text, and others intended primarily as decorative. The presence or absence of serifs represents only one of many factors to consider when choosing a typeface.

Typefaces with serifs are often considered easier to read in long passages than those without. Studies on the matter are ambiguous, suggesting that most of this effect is due to the greater familiarity of serif typefaces. As a general rule, printed works such as newspapers and books almost always use serif typefaces, at least for the text body. Web sites do not have to specify a font and can simply respect the browser settings of the user. But of those web sites that do specify a font, most use modern sans serif fonts, because it is commonly believed that, in contrast to the case for printed material, sans serif fonts are easier than serif fonts to read on the low-resolution computer screen.

A proportional typeface contains glyphs of varying widths, while a monospaced (non-proportional or fixed-width) typeface uses a single standard width for all glyphs in the font. Duospaced fonts are similar to monospaced fonts, but characters can also be two character widths instead of a single character width.

Many people generally find proportional typefaces nicer-looking and easier to read, and thus they appear more commonly in professionally published printed material.[citation needed] For the same reason, GUI computer applications (such as word processors and web browsers) typically use proportional fonts. However, many proportional fonts contain fixed-width (tabular) figures so that columns of numbers stay aligned.

Monospaced typefaces function better for some purposes because their glyphs line up in neat, regular columns. No glyph is given any more weight than another. Most manually operated typewriters use monospaced fonts. So do text-only computer displays and third- and fourth-generation game console graphics processors, which treat the screen as a uniform grid of character cells. Most computer programs which have a text-based interface (terminal emulators, for example) use only monospaced fonts (or add additional spacing to proportional fonts to fit them in monospaced cells) in their configuration. Monospaced fonts are commonly used by computer programmers for displaying and editing source code so that certain characters (for example parentheses used to group arithmetic expressions) are easy to see.[9][better source needed]

Any two lines of text with the same number of characters in each line in a monospaced typeface should display as equal in width, while the same two lines in a proportional typeface may have radically different widths. This occurs because in a proportional font, glyph widths vary, such that wider glyphs (typically those for characters such as W, Q, Z, M, D, O, H, and U) use more space, and narrower glyphs (such as those for the characters i, t, l, and 1) use less space than the average.

Most scripts share the notion of a baseline: an imaginary horizontal line on which characters rest. In some scripts, parts of glyphs lie below the baseline. The descent spans the distance between the baseline and the lowest descending glyph in a typeface, and the part of a glyph that descends below the baseline has the name descender. Conversely, the ascent spans the distance between the baseline and the top of the glyph that reaches farthest from the baseline. The ascent and descent may or may not include distance added by accents or diacritical marks.

In the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic (sometimes collectively referred to as LGC) scripts, one can refer to the distance from the baseline to the top of regular lowercase glyphs (mean line) as the x-height, and the part of a glyph rising above the x-height as the ascender. The distance from the baseline to the top of the ascent or a regular uppercase glyphs (cap line) is also known as the cap height.[10] The height of the ascender can have a dramatic effect on the readability and appearance of a font. The ratio between the x-height and the ascent or cap height often serves to characterize typefaces. 041b061a72


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