0 Glossary of Typographic Terms

ALIGNMENT  The positioning of text within page margins. Alignment zones include flush left, flush right, justified, and centered. Justified type is also referred to (vernacular) as blocked.

ASCENDER  The part of lowercase letters (such as b, d, h and k) that ascends above the x-height of the other lowercase letters in a face.

BASELINE  The imaginary line on which the majority of the characters in a typeface rest.

BODY TEXT Content in a document comprising the paragraphs.

BLOCKED TEXT Content in a document that is either justified or temporarily placed without typesetting within a layout.

BOLD Weight of a typeface greater than the family regular weight. Bold fonts possess the equivalent of additional stroke values. A font may be referred to as bold or headline weight without having a text-weight companion in the family. Bold also can be a derivative (force bold) of the regular family weight in many page layout applications.

BULLET A special character accessible on standard PC keyboards using alt+0149, macs openapple+8.

CAP HEIGHT The height from the baseline to the top of the uppercase letters in a font. Cap height is frequently used to measure the height calculation for the representative display of the font.

CHARACTER ENCODING Character encoding is a table in a font responsible for mapping character codes to glyphs.

CONDENSED A narrow version of a font, typically with more vertical height.

CONTRAST Description referring to amount of variation in glyph strokes. A sans serif such as AVI Sans offers low contrast, while a serif like Old Times American, provides high contrast.

DESCENDER Lowercase component (for example, j, y, p and q) that descends below the baseline of the other lowercase letters in a font.

DINGBATS Fonts consisting of special characters including bullets, graphics and flourishes. Typically decorative in nature.

DISPLAY FONT or DISPLAY FACE or HEADLINE  A font designed for use at large point sizes such as headlines and subheads. Display fonts frequently have a more limited character range and may not include traditional lowercase figures.

DPI Acronym referring to dots per inch. Standard monitor resolutions are 72 and 96 dpi, while typical office output is at 300 or 600 dpi. Offset ranges (for film) are typically significantly higher and also include a linescreen measurement for number of lines per inch.

DROP CAPS Design convention where the first letter of a paragraph extends below the baseline to wrap text of the next line.

ELLIPSIS Punctuation character represented by three dots on the baseline in a row. It represents the omission of a word or phrase or is used as a convention for a thought is trailing and implicit.

EM A unit of measurement in typography. Traditionally represents the width of the uppercase M in the current face and point size. Standard measurement of 24em is equivalent to 24-point type.

EM DASH A long dash indicating a break in a sentence.

EN A unit of measurement in typography. Traditionally represents the width of the uppercase N in the current face and point size. Standard measurement of en is half em.

EN DASH A shorter dash used alternatively to a hyphen, typically depicted on the same horizontal matrices as em.

FACE or FONT One style of a typeface. For example, Antimony No. 2 is a face or font in the typeface Antimony.

FAMILY A group of fonts or faces represented as a collection. For example, Grit Primer is a family of eleven fonts.

GLYPH The term for individual characters in a font.

HEADLINE Introductory or summary information appearing in a layout.

HINTING  The coordinates built into computer-based fonts to make them sharp at all sizes and on display devices of different resolutions.

ITALIC  Slanting version of a typeface. Refer to historical articles for more information.


KERNING Adjustment between glyphs to provide balanced composition of positive and negative space. Not to be confused with tracking.

LEADING  The amount of space between lines of text. See historical articles for more information on the origin of leading.

LIGATURE Two or more glyphs represented by a single glyph. Common ligatures include AE, OE, fl and fi.

MARGIN Positive space around blocks of text.

OBLIQUE or FORCED ITALIC A slanting representation of a font, but without true italic convention. AVI Sans Italic is oblique, whereas Old Times American Italic is italic.

OPENTYPE The OpenType™ format is a superset of the earlier TrueType and Adobe® PostScript® Type 1 font formats. Can include significant functionality and substitution-on-the-fly in one file.

PICA A unit of measure equal to 12 points.

POINT Standard typographic measurement equivalent to approximately 72 points per inch.

PULLOUT COPY Refers to emphasis text removed from body text but not categorized as a subhead. Frequently a quote from body copy.

RAISED CAP A design convention where the first capital letter of a paragraph is set in a large point size and aligned with the baseline of the first line of text.

ROMAN Refers to upright version of a font/face in a typeface/family.

SANS SERIF A type face that does not have serifs, or significant flares within the glyphs. AVI Sans is a sans serif example.

SERIF Decorative flares added to the letterforms. Old Times American is an example of a serif.

SYMBOL Like dingbats, special character tables with glyphs depicting representative visual information devoid of standard alphanumeric forms. May include alphanumeric information in context.

TABULAR FIGURES Numerals that all have the same width.

TRACKING  Block spacing applied to lines of text or paragraphs. Not to be confused with kerning.

TRUETYPE A scalable type technology designed for Windows and Mac OS.

TYPE 1 or POSTSCRIPT The original international type standard for scalable type, invented by Adobe Systems. Type 1 is most frequently utilized by professional graphic designers. OpenType, a relatively new format, has been designed to eventually replace Type 1.

TYPEFACE A collection of fonts or styles comprises a typeface.

WEIGHT The relative thickness or darkness of a font.

WYSIWYG  Acronym for What You See Is What You Get. Refers to screen matching output to device.

X-HEIGHT Refers to height of the lowercase body of the font, excluding ascenders and descenders.

Z_INDEX Refers to lexical pattern of standard information  dissemination in roman printed languages and others. Typically forms a general "z" pattern.
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