French fonte, casting, from Old French (from Vulgar Latin *fundita, from Late Latin, feminine of *funditus, past participle of Latin fundere, to pour forth; see fondant) or from Old French fondre, to melt (from Latin fundere).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Beginning in the 1980s, with the introduction of computer fonts, a broader definition for the term "font" evolved. Different sizes of a single style—separate fonts in metal type—are now generated from a single computer font, because vector shapes can be scaled freely. "Bulmer", the typeface, may include the fonts "Bulmer roman", "Bulmer italic", "Bulmer bold" and "Bulmer extended", but there is no separate font for "9-point Bulmer italic" as opposed to "10-point Bulmer italic"
Gratifyingly, Google Analytics tells me my fascination with fonts is shared by many readers. Thus it is particularly satisfying, legal arguments aside, that from Michigan now comes the mother of all font-focused judicial opinions, Stand Up For Democracy v. Sec'y of State and Board of State Canvassers (PDF).
Font freaks, feast on these insights from the opinion:
Printer Michael Migrin, a 1971 graduate of Ferris State College in the field of graphic reproduction technology, stated his opinion that the petition heading is in 14-point type. He indicated that actual type size can vary: “Now if you would look at every one of these manufactures, their sizes are a little different and their styles are a little different. It all depends on who the manufacturer is.” Rather than a ruler, Migrin used a printer’s “cell” and a magnifying glass to measure the type size: “So I would invite anybody to take this cell and have a ten-power magnifying glass and to lay this cell onto this typeface here and compare if it is 14-point or not.” He stated that every time something is printed, a slight change occurs from the original, so minute differences will occur. He demonstrated the differences between two point sizes, one a 12-point and the other a 14-point, and stated, “[I]f you look at it closely, you can see there’s a slight difference in the shoulder on the type. And if you look at the character, the characters themselves are almost the same height, yet there’s a shoulder which we refer to as the internal leading. This will give you a little better example of what I’m talking about as far as how the difference can vary.”
And on this, from a printer "who holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in printing and has decades of experience in the printing field"
Basically when you’re talking about 14-point type, you’re talking about an area that’s just less than a fifth of an inch, .194. And it becomes a canvas that a type designer gets to work with, and sometimes they use the whole canvas and sometimes they use part of the canvas. The particular type that was used for this petition, called Calibri, was designed by Lucas DeGroot. He’s probably 50 years old right now. And it became – as I investigated more, it became the standard in Microsoft software in 2007.
It is clear from the record evidence that plaintiff’s petition heading is printed in Calibri, the current default family in Microsoft software. It is further undisputed that the font was categorized by the Microsoft software as “14-point.” However, as conceded by the printers andby plaintiff in this case, the actual size of text varies depending on the font family chosen. In other words, “14-point” Calibri font measures in a different type size than “14-point” Arial font. Therefore, text in a so-called 14-point font may not necessarily meet the 14-point type standard of 14/72 inches. Because a heading of 14-point type is plainly and unambiguously prescribed by the Secretary and MCL 168.482(2), text that does not measure 14 point, or 14/72 inches, is insufficient under the statute. Here, the Calibri font utilized in plaintiff’s petition heading is smaller than the prescribed 14-point type measurement of 14/72 inches. In fact, the heading on plaintiff’s petition only measures 12 point on an E-scale ruler. Thus, plaintiff’s petition contains a fatal formatting defect, and the petitions are invalid under the Secretary’s prescribed format and § 482.
In addition to providing this inside information into fonts, the opinion addresses the very serious question of whether otherwise valid petitions for ballot initiatives should be disqualified for minor technical variations from statutory requirements. (See this post at MLW's The Michigan Lawyer.) It is not our place to comment on that question. But we did not want to miss an opportunity to call to the attention of font fans that fonts have shoulders.