What is a font?

The word font refers to a collection of characters (letters, numerals, symbols and punctuation marks). The fonts that are selected affect the printing of the document. It also influences the ease of reading of the document and the volume of text. All fonts have common characteristics.

Font basic properties:

Name – Each font has a distinctive name that represents it. E.g. Courier, Arial, Comic.

Size – It is the height of a character that is expressed in points. Each point is 1/72 of an inch.

Style – This is the further variation of the basic font. The normal style is also referred to as Roman. Others are bold and italic. A group of a font in various styles (bold, italics, roman) is called a font family.

Basic categories:

Screen Fonts – They are used to display characters on the screen. Screen fonts come in predefined point sizes and print on some printers.

Plotter Fonts – They are used for plotting graphics on pen plotters. They display those fonts on the screen. Plotter fonts are scalable to any font size and print on some printers.

TrueType Font – These fonts are scalable to any point size and the screen font matches the print font exactly. They are the most convenient to use as they are scalable and their screen version matches the print exactly.

Font types for printing:

Built-In Fonts – They come with the printer and hence are also called printer fonts. A printer can have one or more fonts. They appear in the Windows application as Font options.

Cartridge Fonts – They are available with some printers and come in form of cartridges that plug into the printer. You may be required to install a software to use these fonts.

Soft Fonts – Also called disk fonts, they are supplied on media (floppy disc or CD). They can also be downloaded from the net. They usually come with an installation program. These fonts are communicated to the printer while printing.

Many of these printer fonts have matching screen fonts to enable the user to see what is being printed. If the font being used does not have a matching screen font, Windows displays a screen font that is closest to the font being used.

Fonts give character to the document. In web designing, many a times it is the selection of the correct font that makes or breaks a site.