Foundations in Graphic Communications: Checking Color Proofs

New York City College Of Technology
Advertising Design & Graphic Arts: NYCCT

The Course At A Glance


Foundations In Graphic Communications
Patrick Henry     (p) 718.847.9430     (c) 917.647.0590     (e)

  Font Basics I:
The Strict Definition Of A "Font"

Today the term "font" is loosely used to describe any named collection of letterforms. Because of the convenience of desktop publishing, "fonts" to most people are simply choices on pull-down menus in a word processing or page layout application. Type purists, however, recognize that a "font" has three distinct characteristics.

It begins with the designation of a family: Times, Helevetica, Futura, etc. Next, a style--for example, bold, italic, or compressed--is applied to the characters of the chosen family. Finally the point size is specified. A font thus consists of the complete set of characters of a selected family in a specific style and size. For example, 48 pt. Futura Bold is a font; so is 36 pt. Futura Italic; 18 Futura Compressed; and so on.

In the days of hot-metal typesetting, the printer's "job case" contained a separate compartment for each font that the shop was able to set. This meant that printers had to store thousands of individually cast letters for time-consuming manual composition. The automated Linotype machine (1886) made it possible to set entire lines of type on demand from matrices (molds) within the machine. Today computers fashion characters from mathematical algorithms as Linotypes once cast them from molten metal.

  Font Basics: Family, Font Basics: Family, Font Basics: Family, Face, Style, Font  
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