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Essential Typography Glossary May 20, 2011

Typography has been merged with web design several years ago and we must admit that it has given great results – recently there have appeared many popular trends connected with typography. Growing potential of typography in web design industry is a positive process in general, though it is clear that often young designers may need more basic knowledge in this sphere. So, if you want to become really good at this occupation you should start from the basics and today we are offering you a glossary of the most important terms that will help you to become a real pro.

Below we are featuring some of the most essential terms that you may have heard while creating new fonts or improving headings in your new project. Also we want to offer you to take a look at a couple of our posts that are closely connected with the today’s topic, and these are “The Difference between OTF and TTF Fonts” and “10 Useful Typography Cheat Sheets“.

Typography Glossary

  • ascender – the part of lowercase letters (such as k, b, and d) that ascends above the x-height of the other lowercase letters in a face
  • descender – The part of lowercase letters (such as y, p, and q) that descends below the baseline of the other lowercase letters in a font face. In some typefaces, the uppercase J and Q also descend below the baseline
  • baseline – this is the line upon which most letters “sit” and below which descenders extend
  • meanline – invisible line that runs over the to of the majority of lowercase letters
  • serif – it is a semi-structural detail on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols
  • sans-serif – typeface is one that does not have the small features called “serifs” at the end of strokes
  • x-height – height of the lowercase letter x. It is also the height of the body of lowercase letters in a font, excluding the ascenders and descenders
  • cap height – height of a capital letter above the baseline for a particular typeface
  • counter – the fully or partially enclosed area in some letterforms (p, q, d, and e)
  • bullet – a dot or other special character placed at the left of items in a list to show that they are individual, but related, points
  • glyph – is an individual mark on a written medium that contributes to the meaning of what is written
  • em space – a distance equal to the type size – 12 points in a 12 point typeface, 11 points in an 11 point typeface and so on. Also known as a “mutton”
  • pica – a unit of typographic measure, equal to 12 points, or about 1/6 inch. Also, a typewriter (monospaced) typeface with a pitch of 10 characters to the inch and a vertical spacing of six lines per inch (hence the name)

That’s all for now, folks. We sincerely hope that our small glossary will be a good start for you and you’ll improve your typography skills. Wish you to have an awesome weekend and would love to know your opinions in the comments to this post!


Typography Glossary
A glossary of typographic terms

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