What You Need to Know About Fonts

Choosing the rights fonts is always an important consideration, whether you are designing the perfect web site or just writing an important letter. The right fonts can greatly increase the usability and readability of any document, so it is important to understand a little bit about the technology behind these vital elements.

Digital fonts store an image of each character, but they do it in two distinctly different ways. A bitmap font, as the name implies, stores the image of the font as a bitmap. A vector font, on the other hand, stores the font as a mathematical description of the curves and lines that make up the outline font.

Digital fonts will also contain data which represents the metrics which are used to compose the font, including component creation data, glyph substitution (used in Arabic typography) and kerning pairs.

Many typefaces can be divided into two categories serif and sans serif. Serifs include small features at the end of the strokes within the letters. Sans serifs, on the other hand, do not include these special features at the end of the letters. The term sans serif comes from the French word sans, meaning without.

There are of course many different typefaces within both the serif and the san serif categories, and both sets include typefaces which are designed for body text, as well as faces designed for page headings, paragraph headings and other elements.

One consideration to use when choosing the right font is that san serif fonts are often easier to read in long documents than serif fonts. It is also important to remember that the font is often chosen by the user of the computer, so the font which actually displays may not be the one designed into the web site. Many web designers choose to allow each computer user the freedom to set his or her own font design.