Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Maeve. Maeve Wonders, “How do different fonts get their names?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Maeve!

Have you ever noticed that not all words look the same? From website to website and book to book, letters can look similar or quite different. Why don’t all letters look the same? It’s because they’re in different fonts. And we should be glad there are so many fonts out there, because they can make reading more interesting!

Traditionally, font is the size and weight of the characters used in a typeface. A typeface is the actual design of letters being typed. Today, most people use the word “font” to mean basically the same thing as “typeface.”

The word “font” itself comes from an old French word. It referred to something that had been melted. How are the two connected? Well, to make a font, people used to melt metal. They then shaped the metal to form the characters of a font. These were then used in the printing press to make letters and words on paper.

Johann Gutenberg designed the first font for his movable type press. At that time, all books were handwritten. Gutenberg designed a font that looked similar to the popular handwritten style of the time. As other printing shops opened, printers began to develop additional fonts to make their products unique.

Fonts add elements of design and creativity to written works. Beyond the meaning of the words themselves, fonts can add emotions to text through their very design.

Would you like to add a sense of fun or whimsy to your words? You could use a font such as Jokerman. Do you want to make your words look like they were written by a child? Try out a font like First-Grader. Or if scary is what you’re after, you could definitely achieve that effect with a font called Chiller!

With the help of computer programs, anyone can design their very own font. There are now hundreds of thousands of fonts in existence!

Standards: CCRA.L.3, CCRA.L.6, CCRA.R.1, CCRA.R.2, CCRA.R.4, CCRA.R.10, CCRA.W.4, CCRA.SL.1, CCRA.SL.2

Wonder What's Next?

Join us in Wonderopolis tomorrow as we trace a letter!