Author: Mitchell Robson

Typography Glossary

Find out more about all things typography.

Last checked: 21st January 2024

Type terms

The arrangement of text in a straight line, or in relation to margins or tabs. Common types include left, right, center, and justified alignment.
The opening or partially enclosed negative space created by an open counter.
The uppermost connecting point in a letterform where two strokes meet; may be rounded, sharp/pointed, flat/blunt etc.
A horizontal or upward, sloping stroke that doesn't connect to a stroke or stem on one or both ends.
The part of a lowercase letter that rises above the main body of the letter (as in 'b' or 'h').
Ascender Line
The invisible line marking the height of ascenders in a typeface.
Ball Terminal
The circular form at the end of the arm in some letters, such as 'a' or 'c'.
The line where the letters sit. The baseline is the line on which most letters "sit" and below which descenders extend.
The decorative extension often found at the end of an arm in letters like 'E' or 'L'.
The curved part of the character that encloses the circular or curved parts (counter) of some letters such as 'd', 'b', 'o', 'D', and 'B'.
A curved or wedge-like connection between the stem and serif of some fonts. Not all serifs are bracketed serifs.
Cap Height/Cap Line
The height of a capital letter measured from the baseline. The imaginary line that marks the upper boundary of capital letters.
The enclosed or partially enclosed circular or curved negative space (white space) of some letters such as 'd', 'o', 'p', 'b', '6', '9'.
The horizontal stroke in letters.
The part of the letters that extends below the baseline (as in 'g', 'j', 'p', 'q', 'y').
Descender Line
The invisible line marking the lowest point reached by descenders within a font.
The small, round mark used for i's and j's. Also known as a tittle.
A small stroke extending from the upper-right side of the bowl of lowercase roman 'g'; also appears in the angled or curved lowercase roman 'r'.
EOT (Embedded OpenType)
A compact form of OpenType designed by Microsoft for use as embedded fonts on web pages.
A tapered or curved end.
The specific shape, design, or representation of a character, letter, or symbol in a font.
The thinnest stroke found in a specific typeface.
A curved stroke in the head of some letters.
The adjustment of space between pairs of letters to improve visual appeal and readability.
A short, descending portion of a letter 'k', 'K', 'R'.
Two or more letters combined into one character to improve the appearance of type.
A stroke that connects the top and bottom bowl in the lowercase double-story 'g'.
The enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline of a double-story 'g'.
The smaller form of letters in a typeface.
OTF (OpenType Font)
Developed by Adobe and Microsoft in the late 1980s. OTF is a scalable format which means the font can be resized without losing quality. It includes features like ligatures and multiple styles.
PostScript Type 1 Font
A font format developed by Adobe Systems in 1985 for professional digital typesetting, that supports the use of PostScript file format to store font information.
A small stroke or extension at the end of a main stroke. Serifs can take different shapes and be classified into different styles, like box, wedge, and hairline serifs.
The curved stroke of the 'h', 'm', 'n'.
Small Caps
Capital letters that are smaller than the regular capitals and are equal in size and weight to the lowercase letters of the font.
The main curved stroke in the letter 'S'.
A small protrusion off a main stroke, often where curve meets a straight stem.
The main, usually vertical stroke of a letterform.
The angle of stress is the angle of the thin parts of the curved strokes in a typeface. The axis is the direction of that angle.
A straight or curved line that makes up the characters of a typeface.
SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) Font
A font format where an SVG's shapes are used to define the different glyph shapes in a font. SVG fonts have been deprecated and should be used with caution.
A decorative extension or stroke on a letter.
The descender of a 'Q' or 'y' in several typefaces.
The end of a stroke that doesn’t include a serif.
The uniform adjustment of spacing for groups of letters and entire blocks of text.
TTF (TrueType Font)
Originally developed by Apple in the late 1980s as a competitor to Adobe's Type 1 fonts used in PostScript. It is a scalable font format that allows fonts to be resized without loss of quality.
The larger form of letters in a typeface. Also known as capital letters.
The point at the bottom of a character where two strokes meet.
WOFF (Web Open Font Format)
A format developed in 2009 for use on the web. WOFF is essentially OpenType or TrueType with compression and additional metadata.
WOFF2 (Web Open Font Format 2)
The update and improvement of WOFF. It provides more efficient compression than its predecessor, meaning faster load times for web pages.
The height of lowercase letters, specifically the lowercase 'x', not including ascenders and descenders.

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