Graphic Design 101: What is a font?

Most people know about fonts and the fact that they make up the type you see on the page. But from a graphic design point of view, fonts are the bricks for building any design from websites to print materials to signs and billboards.

A font is part of a typeface which is part of a typeface family, ie, Bodoni (typeface family), Bodoni Bold (a typeface in that family), Bodoni Bold, 12 point (the font as it is measured in points).

Book on type

Book on type

Recently a grateful client of mine sent me a large box with a book inside called Manual of Typography by Giambattista Bodoni. Within this giant 1200 page tome are examples of the typeface family dating to the early 1800s and still in use today!

Back when type was hand set the printers and designers needed to have an idea of how each font would fill a given sized page, hence type sample sheets (or books in this case) gave different font size examples. I’m fascinated by this book and all the work that went into it but also glad I don’t actually need a shelf full of these to design with fonts today!