As type designers we can get immersed in an insular typographical bubble at times. It’s easy to forget that our language, the lingo, words and terms that we use to discuss, critique and refine our designs is under the constant pressure of discourse and scrutiny within, often redefining itself. We thought that it would be an interesting project to research and illustrate a few of the key words that we use everyday here in the Fontsmith studio but then before we knew it we were up to nearly 80 terms! Unable to cut the list down we’ve prepared this infographic that lists all the vocabulary in one place. Our new typeface FS Aldrin is used on titles and description info. Its technical and precise shapes seemed perfect for conveying all of the terms in a succinct but also amiable tone of voice… Click on the image below to see it full size.
Semi-transparent pixels along the edges of letterform outlines to smooth jagged edges
Antiqua / Antikva
Serif typefaces designed between 16th–17th century (or new designs following the style)
The opening of a partially enclosed counter shape
Point at the top of a letterform where two strokes meet
Curved part of a letterform leading into a straight stem
A stroke that doesn’t connect to another stroke or stem on one or both ends
On lowercase letters the vertical stroke that extends above the x-height
Invisible line marking the height of all ascenders in a font
Axis / Stress
Invisible line dissecting the glyph from top to bottom at its thinnest point
Terminal with a circular shape
Invisible line on which the letters in a font rest
Decorative stroke at the end of the arm of a letter, similar to a serif but more pronounced
Serif extending to both sides of a main stroke
Fully closed rounded part of a letter
Curved or wedge-like connection between the stem and serif of some fonts
Height of a capital letter measured from the baseline
Type style designed with narrow width proportions
An area partially or entirely enclosed in a letterform or symbol like an ‘o’, ‘p’ or ‘c’
The horizontal stroke across a lowercase ‘t’ or ‘f’
Horizontal stroke like the middle of an ‘H’, ‘A’ and ‘e’
Inside angle where two strokes meet
Handwriting with joined-up letters. Can be used to describe an italic font which is similar to handwriting.
Parts of lowercase letters that extend below the baseline
Invisible line marking the lowest part of the descenders
Typefaces used for large type like banners and headlines
Small stroke extending from the bowl of a lowercase ‘g’ or ‘r’
Enclosed space in a lowercase ‘e’ similar to a counter
Tapered or curved end on letters like the bottom of a ‘c’ or ‘e’ or the top of a double storey ‘a’
Horizontal stroke on the figure ‘5’
The part of a stem that rests on the baseline
An embellishment in a ligature that is not originally part of either letter
A single character (number, letter, mark or symbol) is represented by a glyph
German name for sans serif
The lightest font family weight name; can refer to thinnest stroke of a letter.
German name for the semi-bold weight in a type family
Half serif at the top starting point of the letterform
Data instructions within a font to help it render clearly at varying sizes
Curved stroke in a lowercase ‘f’
Areas of the counter are opened to allow for ink to spread, avoiding dark spots.
Slanted to the right unlike roman typefaces which are upright
Joint / Juncture
Where a stroke joins a stem
Adjustments to the space between pairs of letters, used to correct spacing problems in combinations like ‘VA’.
Leading / Linespacing
Vertical space between lines of text, from baseline to baseline.
Downward sloping stroke on a ‘k’ and ‘R’
Two or more letters joined together to form one glyph
Link / Neck
The link connecting the top and bottom bowls of a lowercase ‘g’
Loop / Lobe
A rounded enclosed or partially-enclosed projecting stroke
Invisible line resting on the body of the lowercase letters
Oblique / Slanted
Slanted typeface, mechanically sheared unlike italics which are drawn and crafted separately.
Old style / Hanging figures
Numbers aligned with the lowercase, traditionally used for body text setting.
A round or pointed letter extends higher or lower than a flat letter to make it optically appear the same size
A unit of measure corresponding to 12 points or pixels
A unit of measure corresponding 1/12 of a pica or 1 pixel
The size of the body of each character in a font
Support additional languages including Central European and Cyrillic and/or Greek
Converting an image from vector to raster (pixels or dots)
Standard type style or regular weight of an upright typeface
Small stroke at the beginning or end of main strokes of a letter
Curved part in a lowercase ‘h’, ‘m’ and ‘n’
When an ‘a’ or ‘g’ has one counter rather than two
Capitals which are a similar height to the lowercase, designed for abbreviation and emphasis in texts.
Horizontal space on the side of each character
The main curve in ‘S’ and ‘s’
Small protruding part on a main stroke
Curves transition into straight stems without a spur
A vertical stroke in a character
Exaggerated decorative serif, terminal or tail.
The descending stroke of the letter ‘Q’
Thinner and refined end of a stroke
The end of any stroke that doesn’t have a serif
The dot on the ‘i’ and the ‘j’
Spacing added to or removed from groups of letters outside the original spacing and kerning specified within a font file
The point where two strokes meet at the bottom of a character
The heaviness of a typeface, independent of its size; can refer to a style within a font family (Thin or Regular).
Height of the lowercase ‘x’ which is used as a guideline for the height of unextended lowercase letters
Want the latest news, type tips and promotions?
Sign up to our monthly digest, TypeNotes
You’ll get an email about once a month and we’ll never share your address. Scout’s honour!