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Typography Terms You Need to Know

By Din Studio on October 6, 2021

Typography Terms You Need to Know — “Verba volant, scripta manent” is one of Latin proverbs meaning spoken words are easily forgotten, but written scripts last forever. Therefore, they become crucial means of communication. 

The earliest way to record stories and ideas was through pictures on a cave publicly known in 25,000 B.C. Those pictures are called pictograms. A pictogram is a simple representative of people, places and things which is easy to comprehend. Despite its simplicity, this written form of communication is permanent, unlike the spoken one. 

 

The hand painting in Cuevas de las Manos, Argentina (about 9,000 to 13,000 B.C.) is the earliest written form of communication taken from the National Geographic page. 

 

Humans consciously created the first written text forms and letters about 5,000 years ago. Since then, letters have become important means of communication which has developed for years along with the development of science and technology leading to its way of digital communication. 

One of significant elements in graphic design is typography. It can mean the arrangement and pattern of pages, or all printed staffs. The more specific definition is selection, arrangement and other things related to stack lines of letters excluding illustrations and other factors of non-letters on the printed page. 

To common people, they find it unusual about typography terms. If you are interested in designing especially typography, you need to learn various terms used in it. 

Terms of typography are explained in the following description. Check it out!

 

 

Terms of Typography

 

typography

 

Font

In the traditional typography especially in metal print, a font is a group of characterized metal which represents complete characters from a certain design (all characters, numbers, signs, symbols, etc.). Today’s fonts refer to a group of complete characters from a certain type of design or letter in a digital form. 

 

Typography

A typography is one of graphic design terms which does not stand alone and is related to other fields of science. In simpler words, a typography is a specific letter design, such as Times New Roman. 

 

Character

An individual symbol from a group of complete characters forming typography can be in the forms of letters, numbers, punctuation, etc. 

 

Glyph

A non-standard variation (sometimes decorative) comes from the existing characters as additional options in the font file. 

 

typography terms

Serif

Serif is a short line or a lengthwise sticky scratch at the edge of an open area of a letter. 

 

Sans Serif / Sans

It literally means ‘without line’. You can also see some sample here.

Italic

It is a tilt version of a letter type. 

Baseline

It is an imaginary border line between letters and other characters. 

 

Cap Line

It is an imaginary line that marks the top border of capital letters and some lowercases (ascender). 

 

X-Height

The height of a lowecase is usually based on the lowercase ‘x’, excluding ascenders and descenders. 

 

Tracking / Letter Spacing

It means the equal amount of distances between characters in a complete text. 

 

Kerning

It means a horizontal distance of two characters in a row adjusting the kerning to create an equal display. 

 

typography

Leading / Line Spacing 

It means a vertical distance from the text row (from the back line to the back line). 

Stroke 

It is a straight line or curve. 

 

Stem

It is a straight vertical line or a straight diagonal line. 

 

Arc of Stem

It is a curve stroke which continues to Stem. 

 

Foot

It is part of the stem which is equal the base line.  

 

Descender

It means a part of a character (g, j, p, q, y, J) which declines on the base line. 

 

Ascender

It means part of lowercase characters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) which lengthwises on top of the lowercase x. 

 

Joint 

It is a point where the stroke meets the stem. 

 

Apex

It is a connecting point at the top position of a letter form where two strokes meet. It can be round, sharp, flat, etc. 

 

Vertex 

It is a point below a character where two strokes meet. 

 

Crotch

It means the inner angle where two strokes meet.

Arm

It is horizontal or diagonal at the top position which is tighten on one end but loose on the other end. 

 

Feet

It is a short stroke and declining on a letter form. 

 

Shoulder

It is a curve on letters h, m, or n. 

 

Bar / Crossbar

It is a horizontal line in characters such as A, H, R, e or f.   

 

Cross Stroke 

It is a line that cuts past the stalk of a letter. 

 

Bowl 

A curved stroke creates a closed area in character (later called the counter). 

 

Counter

It means some part or the whole part is covered in a character and bordered by curva, stroke or stem. 

 

Aperture

It is an open area or partly covered in negative space created by open counter. 

 

Double-Story

It is a type of a letter that has two counters. 

 

Terminal

It is the end of a stroke which is not ended with a serif. 

 

Swash

It is a decorative ornament replacing terminal or serif. 

 

Ligature

Two or more connected letters form a certain character, especially decorative. 

 

 

Those are the terms frequently used in a typography. You are allowed to mark this article as a typography dictionary and references to learn more about typography. Good luck! 

 

 

 

 

References :

Kliever, J. —. A beautifully illustrated glossary of typographic terms you should know. Canva. https://www.canva.com/learn/typography-terms/

Valentino, D. E. 2019. Typography Introduction. TEMATIK, Vol. 6 (2) : 152-173.


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