Identifying fonts and thinking about their distinguishing characteristics is not something that I am overly familiar with and so I was interested to do some research. I started by making a list of some commonly used fonts and exploring the different characters beyond the standard A-Z alphabet.
I then looked at two different typefaces used in the February Issue of ‘History Revealed’ magazine. One was a serif and one a san serif and both were used for headings.
I tried using www.identifont.com to identify which fonts they were.
For the serif typeface the website found seven possible close matches.
Having examined each of the options I decided that it was most similar to Holland Seminar. This isn’t the exact font however as I can see visual differences in the shape of some of the letters. The serifs on the magazine typeface are more pronounced and the stroke on the O is thicker. The R has a curved rather than straight leg and the U doesn’t have a terminal.
The website narrowed the Sans Serif typeface down to just two options.
Din Schriften Engschrift seemed to be the closest match but again I wasn’t convinced that I had accurately identified the font. The letters in the magazine are slightly more rounded and wider. It looks visually as if the ‘x’ height of the magazine font is less than that of Din Schriften Engschrift.
I was disappointed that identifont had failed on both my examples… trying to identify the typefaces feels a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack.
I decided to look at a different magazine and some more familiar typeface examples. Vogue magazine has a very distinctive title and I was interested to find out what the typeface was. After some research I found that it was a modified version of a Didot typeface. Didot is a group of typefaces with the characteristics of high stroke contrast and a more condensed armature. Similarly, the word for the Chanel product range is also written in a typeface developed especially for the brand. This seems to be quite common in the typography of popular brands. The Chanel logo looks similar to a sans serif font called SF New Republic. I compared the characteristics of the two fonts.
I had a look at https://fontsinuse.com which is an independant archive of typography and gives examples of designs that use popular and more unknown typefaces.
http://www.luckymanpress.com/teach/pages/Links/Guide2Fonts.html is another useful website for its guide to common fonts which lists notable characteristics and also offers a test to see whether or not you are able to identify them.