Sunday, October 28, 2012

What's In A Font?

More often than not, such as now, you read text rendered by a computer. The ways in which this text is rendered and styled are known as fonts. A font is a character set consisting of a single typeface.

There are two types of fonts: serifs and sans serifs. What are serifs? They're the little tails on letters that are supposed to make them easier to read. Times New Roman, anyone? Arial, on the other hand, is a sans serif font as the letters do not feature any of these strokes.

We're not talking about golf strokes!

There are proportional and monospaced fonts too. In monospaced fonts each character occupies an identical-sized space, whereas proportional fonts give each character a space relative to its size. Typewriters required monospaced fonts, but nowadays most people use computers that often employ proportional fonts, which people usually find to be easier on the eyes.

For those of you who are unaware, this terrifying machine is
a typewriter. People used them to type back in the old days...

Is it that important which font you use as long as it can be read? Yes! For example, don't write your CV (or résumé) in Comic Sans! It makes it look like a joke... albeit not a funny one. Fonts blend linguistics and design together, using written language as an art form.

Fonts can be important that certain companies copyright and trademark them. They can even become synonymous with a brand. When Sony launched the PS3, it came under some criticism for its use of the "Spider-Man" font. Instead of creating a new font, it decided to simply use the font that its film division had created for the Spider-Man movies since it already had the legal rights to it. Apparently, they were afraid of getting into legal battles if their potential new font was too similar to someone else's!

As you can see, there's much more to fonts than meets the eye!