Typeface: Defined

In typography, a typeface (also known as font family) is a set of one or more fonts each composed of glyphs that share common design features. Each font of a typeface has a specific weight, style, condensation, width, slant, italicization, ornamentation, and designer or foundry (and formerly size, in metal fonts).

A typeface is a family of fonts (very often by the same designer). Within a typeface there will be fonts of varying weights or other variations. E.g., light, bold, semi-bold, condensed, italic, etc. Each such variation is a different font.

Typefaces are extremely important for designers to understand, discuss, and utilize in their work. If your branding work requires a modern approach, most designers will opt for a sans-serif font while vintage-inspired motifs typically use serif fonts.

Typefaces dictate an overall approach, providing many options for different sizes and hierarchical utility in information design. Remembering this is the best way to understand the difference between a typeface and a font; a typeface is a set of fonts that are connected while a font is a singular style of type. A font is part of the overall typeface.

Type Classifications

Serif, Sans-Serif, Script, Decorative

Most typefaces can be classified into one of four basic groups: those with serifs, those without serifs, scripts and decorative styles. Over the years, typographers and scholars of typography have devised various systems to more definitively categorize typefaces – some of these systems have scores of sub-categories.

A serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface).

A typeface without serifs is called sans serif or sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”.

Script typefaces are based upon the varied and often fluid stroke created by handwriting. They are organized into highly regular formal types similar to cursive writing and looser, more casual scripts.

This is the largest category and also the most diverse. Rarely used for lengthy blocks of text, decorative typefaces are popular for signage, headlines and similar situations were a strong typographic statement is desired.

Classification Examples

Serif Fonts

Book Antiqua


Times New Roman

Sans-Serif Fonts

Arial Black



Script Fonts



Pinyon Script

Decorative Fonts

Princess Sofia

Ruslan Display

Vast Shadow



An ascender is the part of a lowercase character that lies above the mean line.


A descender is the portion of a letter that extends below the baseline of a font.


The meanline is the imaginary line running along the top of non-ascending, lowercase letters.


The height of lowercase letters reach based on height of lowercase x; does not include ascenders or descenders. Definition: In typography, xheight is the distance between the baseline of a line of type and tops of the main body of lower case letters (i.e. excluding ascenders or descenders).


The vertical distance of the base lines of consecutive lines in a paragraph is also known as line height or leading, although the latter can also refer to the baseline distance minus the font size.


Summarize the main ideas on Practical Typography, and what you have learned in order to make them applicable in your work.

Your responses must be at least 1–2 paragraphs.

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