Don’t let the jungle of typeface choices get you down … here’s an easy guide! (image via Inspiration Labs) (click for a larger version)

This chart may be all you need to decide what font, I mean typeface, to use for a current or upcoming project.

Design historian Steven Heller reminded me a few weeks ago that I use the terms font and typeface interchangeably, point taken (even though my mom was a graphic designer and I should know better), but I have to admit to not being so concerned with the usage since I usually get blank stares when I use typeface with non-design people. Did desktop publishing ruin design terminology? Is the term typeface destined to be labeled arcane in the dictionaries of the near future? My guess is yes.

But before that happens, I thought I’d quote Fontfeed’s excellent collection of explanations for the difference between the two terms.

First up, Mark Simonson:

… the physical embodiment of a collection of letters, numbers, symbols, etc. (whether it’s a case of metal pieces or a computer file) is a font. When referring to the design of the collection (the way it looks) you call it a typeface.

Nick Sherman’s take:

The way I relate the difference between typeface and font to my students is by comparing them to songs and MP3s, respectively (or songs and CDs, if you prefer a physical metaphor).

And, lastly, Norbert Florendo:

… font is what you use, and typeface is what you see.

Now back to this chart … I have to say I’m impressed by how effective it is. I just tried it for something I had to whip up last night and it worked. Long live the infographic! Viva la desktop publishing revolución!

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Hrag Vartanian

Hrag Vartanian is editor-in-chief and co-founder of Hyperallergic. You can follow him at @hragv.

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