Typefaces vs Fonts; what is the difference?

Typefaces vs Fonts; what is the difference?-What’s the difference between a Font and a Typeface. You may have heard these two words used interchangeably, but technically, a font and a typeface are two different things. I have to admit, that I too am guilty of mixing these up in everyday conversation. So let’s take a minute to explain the difference.

Typefaces vs Fonts; what is the difference?

A Typeface is a collection of designed characters or related fonts that share the same general look. Typefaces are also referred to as type families. What I mean by this is: a typeface can have, let’s say, different family members, for instance, the typeface family of Gill Sans has several family members like Gill Sans Light, Gill Sans Regular, Gill Sans Bold, and Gill Sans Italic.

A Font is a digital file that contains various characters in specific sizes, weights and styles. Typefaces that have certain style attributes like point size and style are fonts. Another thing to keep in mind is that there are different classifications of typefaces.

There are many classifications of typefaces out there, but for the sake of simplicity, we are just going to focus on the 3 that are most commonly used on Wedding Invitations: serifs, sans serifs, and scripts. A Serif is a typeface that includes small lines at the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol.

As you can see, not all serif typefaces are created equal. Bodoni Classic is just that — classic. It uses traditional serifs. Poor Richard on the other hand has varied, almost “cutesy” serifs making the typeface in general, very playful. And finally, Light Classic Roman is an example of a very thin, ALL CAPS serif typeface that is clean yet very classic looking.

A Sans Serif is a typeface does not use serifs or small lines at the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. As you can see from the examples on the right, these typefaces are very clean and modern looking. Futura and Helvetica are too very well known and widely used sans serif typefaces. Both come in a wide variety of styles like light, regular, book, bold, oblique, bold oblique, etc. Bodega Sans is a non-traditional sans serif.

It’s tall, condensed and sharp — it almost looks as though someone took a typeface and just smooshed it together. A Script is a typeface known to resemble calligraphy, cursive or handwriting that is usually varied and depicts fluid motion. It seems like there are a million different scripts out there. Some scripts are regular and extremely formal, while others are loose and much more casual.

Mr. Sheffield reminds me of a person’s handwriting. It’s fluid, but just a little bit irregular, making it seem a bit more casual. Sloop Script is a very dramatic typeface. From the weight of the lines, to the extreme angle, this typeface would definitely work best on a formal or traditional wedding invitation.

Balmoral is a curvy typeface, and it’s full of loops. It looks like the inspiration for this typeface came from someone writing with a calligraphy pen. You may be wondering just how many fonts to use on your wedding invitation.

Depending on the font you choose, your invitation can have a casual or formal look. In this ribbon invitation, we chose the script Marnie Regular as our one and only font, which really gives this invitation a formal, calligraphy-like feel. In this very modern, southwest-inspired invitation, we chose Futura Book, which is a very well designed, clean sans serif.

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It works really well with the angled lines in the artwork to the left. This is a good example of a using a font that really compliments the artwork. In the previous example, there wasn’t any artwork really, just a ribbon, so we had a lot more freedom as to which typeface to use since just about anything could have worked on that particular invitation. On this one however, I think your options are a bit limited and that’s okay.

In this case, you really want the artwork to stand out, so I wouldn’t choose a serif or a script, as they would compete with the artwork for attention. Here’s an example of a wedding invitation that uses 2 fonts: one font, again Futura, which acts as the font for the body of the text, whereas the second font, Marnie, is used to make certain words stand out, like the couple’s names. Some scripts can be difficult to read if their point size is too small, or if there’s just too much of it — so it’s a good idea to pair these scripts with serifs or sans serifs to help with readability.

You can could carry this 2-font theme throughout your invitation suite by using a script for headers or titles like “rsvp” on your reply card, and use a sans serif for the meal choices. It doesn’t stop at 2 fonts however. Some designers, myself included, love to mix it up and sometimes include 3, 4 or even 5 fonts — if of course it fits within the design. Now here’s what I like to call a tale of 2 fonts. This geometric invitation screams modern with its funky triangle design, bright, bold colors, sharp angles, and it’s randomness.

Just like I said earlier, not all serifs are created equal; well no typeface is created equal either. What I mean by that is certain fonts or typefaces work best in certain situations. The invitation on the left uses a very rigid, script typeface called Avalon. It’s narrow, it’s on a different angle than all of the triangles above and it’s difficult to read in the point size it’s set at given the space we had to work with.

The invitation on the right, uses an ALL CAPS version, widely spaced (or tracked) sans serif, and you guessed it, it’s Futura. The crisp, clean lines mimic the lines in the geometric pattern above. The added white space in between each letter fills in the space left to right which makes this version much easier to read. Needless to say, this font choice really compliments the design.

So just remember that not every font or typeface will work on every invitation. When in doubt, stick with the font or fonts that the invitation was sampled in — chances are, a designer or invitation expert took the time to carefully pick the perfect font or fonts to feature on that particular invitation.

If you are having your invitations custom designed, then leave the font choices up to your designer. He or she will know what will work best with the design on your invitation.

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