People often use the terms font and typeface interchangeably.Neither font is a synonym for typeface, nor typeface is synonym for font. It is incorrect to use either of these terms in place of the other. In simple words, a Font is what you use and a Typeface is what you see. As a designer, artist and typographer; it is important to understand the technical meaning and difference between font and typeface.
What is a typeface?
A typeface is the design of alphabets or letters, numbers and symbols. For example, Helvetica, Arial, Futura, etc., are typeface. In other words, a typeface is referring to the design of the collection or the way it looks. Typeface shows the shape of the characters., it is the creative idea.
A typeface is usually known as font family.
The letters, numbers, and symbols that make up a design of type. A typeface is often part of a type family of coordinated designs. The individual typefaces are named after the family and are also specified with a designation, such as italic, bold or condensed.
What is a font?
A font is a physical embodiment of a collection of letters, numbers, symbols, etc. whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file is a Font. Font can be understood as a storage format, whether it is done digitally or physically. For example, Helvetica Ultra Light Extended Oblique.otf is a font. Font conventions can vary depending on the weight, optical size, effect, grade, width, style.
A font is the manifestation thereof. A font comprises of the typeface, its style and size.
Understanding the difference between a font and a typeface
As shown in the picture above, a typeface is main component. When you add things that define sections in the main component, it becomes font. Another example to understand the difference between a font and a typeface can be the following.
Think of typeface as a tree. A tree comprises of things like fruits, flowers, etc. so these can be termed as font.
Another way to understand typeface and font is to relate both of them as family and family members. In this example, typeface is the family and font is mother, father, daughter and son.
Now it should be clear to you what font and typeface is. Remember, when people use the words font and typeface on place of the other, they’re wrong. It is always good for designers and non-designers to know the difference between basic terminologies.