Type Snobs

Charles_borges_de_oliveira's picture

Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of type snobs in this world.

HVB's picture

Sure. And it's no different than any other field. "What kind of idiot would use/buy a __________?" Fill in the blank with PC, Mac, Ford, Jaguar, Teflon pan, cast-iron pan, etc. etc. - Herb

riccard0's picture

It would be a good title for a new typography-related social network! ;-)

hrant's picture

Of course once there are too many it won't be worth it. Meta-snobbism.


cerulean's picture

The saturation of type snobbery is overblown by the general public. "Fonts" are a universal humor shorthand for "stuff that doesn't matter." Having any opinions at all about type makes you a type snob. It offends people that someone thinks about typefaces. People who readily acknowledge a common understanding of what is good or bad taste in music, and who will pick apart the slightest deviations from their ideals in a person's physical appearance, will deliberately use "hated" fonts "just to piss off hipsters."

JamesM's picture

Being a snob is different from being knowledgeable. A snob is someone who offends others by his/her air of superiority. A snob can be knowledgeable or can be clueless; it's their attitude that makes them a snob.

zeno333's picture

Knowing that a "font" is a particular style and or type size "within" a "typeface" makes one a bit snobbish I guess....Most use the word font where the word typeface should be used. But of course all here already know that ;) ;) ;)

JamesM's picture

Yeah, I think font/typeface is mostly a lost cause; "font" is used by most folks even when it isn't the correct term.

And this has nothing to do with typography, but my pet peeve is folks that use "less" when they should use "fewer" (such as "I have less books than I used to"). I even see well-educated folks making that mistake, so I guess the rules have just changed over time.

oldnick's picture

Fools can be found anywhere; pretensions are pretensions, no matter what pretense they pretend…

Mark Simonson's picture

It's hard to blame people for using the word font to mean typeface. Programs don't have typeface menus, you don't install typefaces, and none of these exist: TypefaceShop, TypefaceTypefaces, MyTypefaces, Typeface Bureau, TypefaceHaus, Typefaceographer, TypefaceLab, DaTypeface, Typefaces.com, RoboTypeface, etc., etc.

I think we're stuck with font, and I think that's fine.

hrant's picture

Also, when writing articles about... fonts :-) it's actually useful to leverage this ambiguity in order to avoid repetitive-sounding terms. Sometimes you can't avoid "typeface" and sometimes you can't avoid "font" but often it's pretty OK to mix things up.


Charles_borges_de_oliveira's picture

I've heard that typeface represents a font with multiple weights while a font that has one weight is simply a font. Who knows. Fonts and typeface mean the same thing to me.

Joshua Langman's picture

Really? Typefaces.com doesn't exist? Someone snatch it up fast!

(… I sort of thought H&FJ might have grabbed it.)

Karl Stange's picture

(… I sort of thought H&FJ might have grabbed it.)

They use typography.com and Jeremy Tankard has '.net'. It seems strange that no one has taken it though.

Mark Simonson's picture

More evidence that "font" has won.

John Hudson's picture

For me, the distinction between typeface and font is always present, because I tend to be talking about one or the other in a fairly precise way. Most people are only ever talking about typefaces -- 'I really like Helvetica: it's a great font' -- so don't need to make the distinction. If you are in the business of designing type and making fonts, the distinction is useful and aids clear communication; that isn't snobbery.

John Hudson's picture

Mark: ...and none of these exist: TypefaceShop, TypefaceTypefaces, MyTypefaces, Typeface Bureau, TypefaceHaus, Typefaceographer, TypefaceLab, DaTypeface, Typefaces.com, RoboTypeface, etc.

These are all businesses for selling licenses to fonts or tools for making fonts, so what is your point? Fonts are the product.

John Hudson, Tiro Typeworks. :)

Nick Shinn's picture

Nothing new in type snobbery.
Type culture, and design culture in general, has long looked down its nose at "trade".
For the longest time, book types have held the privileged position.
For instance, 19 th century sans serif (and other commercial genres) were omitted from type histories until quite recently.
Similarly, the historicist movement of the early 20th century, which completely dominated graphic design, has played second fiddle in most design narratives to modernism, which was rarely seen in mass media.

Mark Simonson's picture

what is your point? Fonts are the product.

I get that. But my point is that ordinary people see the word "font" much more than "typeface", and that's even true when they look at the names of the places selling type. "Font" is also much more common than "typeface" on computer user interfaces and in application menus. Microsoft Word doesn't have a "Typeface" menu, it has a "Font" menu.

I'm not saying it's not an important distinction, just that "typeface" has become somewhat marginalized compared to "font", whether we like it or not, and that it's probably too late to do anything about it.

By the way, I don't think the word "type" is in the same danger.

5star's picture


I thought long and hard for a typetastic name and url which I thought would cross over several diiferent communities who where already aware of letter shapes. I chose ... font rageous.

So as I'm setting up my website developing awesome visuals, I continue to approach several, and very divergent, communities ranging from adult entertainment, to classical music, to grocery stores, etc.. All of them know what a font is (prolly thanks to using their own PCs or whatever), but not so many knew/know what a typeface is.


Té Rowan's picture

You make typefaces and sell fonts. No prob.

eliason's picture

No, you design typefaces, make fonts, and sell licenses.

Té Rowan's picture

Close enough for the average web moron, though.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Personally I find most people, even creatives, very unaware about fonts and type. So, no, I don't come across a lot of type snobs. Except the ones that always seem to want Copperplate.

dberlow's picture

"Is it just me or does it seem like there are a lot of type snobs in this world."

Compared to where?

cerulean's picture

Good point. Equestria? They seem happy with pictographs and greeking.

oldnick's picture


Compared to where? Well, I have it on good authority that Vulcans find Arial to be a perfectly logical choice for documents of a straightforward and non-prejudicial informational nature.

chrisburton's picture

Is it wrong to educate those who use the terms in the wrong way?

oldnick's picture


Do you have an "unlimited" calling plan? Are those "free" offers really free*?

processcamera's picture

Speaking for myself, I am always going to regard "typeface" as a practical description for a design family of raised mechanical letters that press or strike directly against paper. The term is useful and correct as it relates to letterpress or typewriter printing, but it is not more educated or professional than "font" when applied to photo or digital typography.

oldnick's picture


Actually, it's quite the opposite. In metal type terminology, a font is a set of letters of a particular style, in a particular size: e.g., 10 pt. Clarendon Bold. 12 pt Clarendon Bold would be another font. Since the digital versions can render the typeface in a very wide variety of different sizes, "font" simply doesn't work...

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