"No two words in typography are as commonly misused as font and typeface. A
typeface is a collection of characters—letters, numbers, symbols, punctuation
marks, etc.—that are designed to work together like the parts of a coordinated
outfit. A typeface is an alphabet with a certain design. A font, in contrast, is a
physical thing, the description of a typeface—in computer code, photographic
film, or metal—used to image the type. The font is the cookie cutter, and the
typeface is the cookie (see Figure 3 1).† When you look at a page of type, you can say, “What typeface is that? ” or “What font was used to set that? ” But you can’t say, “What font is that? ” because you’re not looking at a font; you’re looking at the product of a font. The confusion between the terms arises largely from the ambiguous use of
the term font in computer programs, most of which have a Font menu. Although
that menu lists what fonts are available for use by the program, it could just as
easily be called the Typeface menu, as it also lists the typefaces available for
your pages. In fact, since some fonts contain data for more than one typeface,
it would be more accurate to call it the Typeface menu."
† Figure 3.1 shows an example font (the computer code) and its corresponding typeface.
They are all different Garamond typefaces.
While the bold, italic, display, caption, etc. versions of each are the different fonts.
"A font is an assortment of one size and face of type."
In other words, most faces came in multiple sizes, and each face-size pairing (that you could buy) was called a font. A.T.F. Goudy Bold, to use an example from the book, came in the following sizes: 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 18, 24, 30, 36, 42, 48, 60, 72, and 96 (all units given in typographer's points). Complicating the matter was that each font had a slight variation of the face design to accommodate the way that ink behaved on the type differently and was interpreted by the human eye differently at different sizes.
Edited to add: But none of this changes the fact that Adobe Garamond and Garamond 3 and ITC Garamond are not the same typeface. If you wrote the original article, you should probably update it to fix this mistake before readers start getting the wrong idea.
This raises my level of scrutiny.
>Even if you might ask someone about a favorite CD, Rolling Stone wouldn’t. They would call those albums.
When CDs were the dominant music medium, this difference was anachronistically pedantic. With the analogy of technology sanding down a previously meaningful difference in mind, re-reading this line was telling:
>In traditional print, the distinction is easy: a font was a typeface set at a certain size, weight and style and cast in metal...In its digital form, fonts are more flexible and the moment when a typeface becomes a font is way more nuanced.
∴ In traditional print typeface != font. But today, the difference is so nuanced, the point of delineation so subjective, that the gradient, while interesting to talk about, can be safely ignored.
I prefer Jon Tan's perspective: http://v1.jontangerine.com/log/2008/08/typeface--font
A typeface is a family of fonts (very often by the same designer). Within a typeface there will be fonts of varying weights or other variations. E.g., light, bold, semi-bold, condensed, italic, etc. Each such variation is a different font. The only evolution in terminology that results from the transition from metal-cast to digital fonts is that (point) size is no longer fixed.
The Garamond fonts he lists are not members of a "Garamond" typeface. Rather, those fonts are each members of their own respective typefaces which happen to be different interpretations of a theme.
There's a meaningful difference. but you still end up dealing with Web frameworks that have a method for script_tag that inserts an element that has two tags. And when developers start talking about doing something with tags you have to mentally parse or just ask if they really mean tags or elements.
Typeface : a standard.
Font : an implementation.
If you find someone mentioning distinctions of this sort, you can be reasonably sure you're dealing with a pedant who enjoys 'educating' or correcting more than producing or doing.