The Basics: What Are Fonts And How Do I Use Them

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This page is part of The Ultimate Font Guide, an introductory font manual that explains the basics of fonts and how to install fonts, use them in different applications and more.

What is a font

Without going too much into technicalities on fonts & typefaces the easiest way to describe it is that a font is the design of letters and contains their style details.

Example of different types of fonts:

  • Verdana 12 pt bold
  • Times New Roman 11 pt italic

Although technically a ‘font’ can contain many assets such as typeface/point size, weights, color, etc, you can safely call “Verdana” a font. When you buy a font online you are buying a digital file that you must install on your computer. You can see it best as a small piece of software that will tell you how the letters should look and print.

What is a font family

A lot of times when you are buying fonts you will see sellers telling you that they are offering a complete family! Sounds great, but what is it? When you are using regular fonts such as Verdana on your computer, you are actually using a font family. If you type in Microsoft Word some text you can easily change it into:

  • Italic
  • Bold
  • Bold Italic

All these variations are different fonts and together they make up a font family.

We will give you an example, below you will see an image of the font family “Fibon Sans“. Fibon Sans is a family that consists out of multiple fonts:

  • Fibon Sans Regular
  • Fibon Sans Light
  • Fibon Sans Extra Lights
  • Fibon Sans Medium
  • Fibon Sans Bold
  • Fibon Sans Extra Bold

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Sometimes you can buy a complete family, sometimes you just buy a single font. This totally depends on your needs.

A font family is always a minimum of 2 fonts, there is no maximum. There are font families that contain hundreds of fonts, each one slightly different. Usually this is not very interesting for crafters. As a crafter you usually want to buy a single font that you like and would look good for your projects. If you are building a website or publishing a magazine you might want to pick a nice font with many family members so you can change the font on a lot of places but without it starting to look messy.

How do I use fonts

Fonts that you purchase online need to be installed on your computer. Using them depends on the application that you are using them in. Please check out the “The Ultimate Font Guide” main page. We tell you how to install fonts on different operating systems (such as Windows and Mac) and we also explain per application how to use the fonts. If your font is not listed, feel free to leave a comment and request us to write a manual. If we get enough requests for a specific application we will definitely write about it.

What is the difference between a font and a typeface

A lot of font sellers started using the words font and typeface as if they are interchangeable. This means that if you are shopping for fonts and it says typeface, you are good to go as it is most likely the same thing. The difference between a font and a typeface is rather technical, if you are really interested in the difference you can check out this article. Our advice is not to bother and treat them the same.