What are the differences between a typeface and a font ?

Scaffolding the front end series

Created on: May 11, 2017

Updated on: April 25, 2018

Written by Sehinde Raji

Historical perspective

The words font and typeface go back to the pre digital age.


A typeface is defined as the frames used by printer workshops that contained metal letters. These were arranged individually and were designed by a type designer.

The printer then had to cover these with paper and press down on them so that the page layout was created and developed.

Over the past 2 decades we have seen the printing industry merge with the software industry. The printing methods and practices of the former have taken precedence over those of the latter. This means that we have adopted the terminology of the printing industry and some of us use the words typeface and fonts interchangably. We will now move on to the definition of a font.


Today Fonts are used everywhere in most applications, there are fonts in Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint.

If you dont already know here is a definition of a font.

A font is a set of letters and symbols in a particular design and size. These are typically grouped in to families.

As the digtal age progressed software companies referred to the characters within a word document as the font or font family.

Typeface and Font examples

A typeface is for example Arial Bold, or Times New Roman Regular. Whilst a font family is Times New Roman or Arial.

As in all software development there isn't a right or wrong answer to this.

We use the words font and typeface interchangably here at Ormrepo to ensure consistency in our referrals to text in our software.

How do you refer to text characters in your software ?