You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe. You say GIF (hard g), I say JIF (soft g). (For the record, it's pronounced "JIF.") The world of type is full of terms that are constantly misused. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle with choosing the right terminology too. So I wanted to define some of the most common terms, for your benefit and mine.
The art or arranging and styling letters.
In a typographic composition, it is not necessary to create the letters from scratch through lettering or calligraphy for example. A brilliant typographer can also work strictly with fonts. They know how to pair fonts to see which look best together. They also determine how to typographically express the meaning of the text. I have to solve this problem regularly at my day job: working at a magazine. The title of a feature story needs to have a look that relates to the content of that story.
It not only takes design knowledge to arrange the text using design principles, but typographic knowledge to know how to style that text. When I say "style" here, I mean the look of the letters (including size and different typefaces, among other things).
I personally see this as an all-encompassing term referring to typefaces, fonts, lettering, calligraphy.
A group of fonts (see below). With evolving technology, it's now commonly interchanged with "font."
This used to refer to the entire group of all the characters (individual letters and symbols) in an exact size and style of a typeface. EX: 12pt Times New Roman Bold
After computers came along, the size requirement was dropped and the term just referred to a certain style within a typeface. EX: Times New Roman Bold
Some people today also use this term to describe the medium in which we use typefaces (so in modern times: a digital file).
The art of drawing letters. A letterer illustrates the shapes of the characters and creates custom designs (rather than using a font, which is easily accessible to everyone).
The art of writing letters. A calligrapher uses different tools to create a desired effect simply by writing the basic skeleton of each letter.
Click here to read more about lettering vs. calligraphy, two of the most commonly misused type terms.
Check back next week for part two, where I'll define type terminology related to how letters are constructed.