This is the first in what might be a lengthy series on typography. The guidelines will be general at first, with an increasing focus on website typography.
To have a meaningful discussion on typefaces it is important to get to grips with the terminology. That being said let’s take look at the the constituent parts of individual characters in a typeface.
- Arm — The projecting upward or horizontal strokes not enclosed within a character as in E, L, K.
- Ascender — The stem of a lowercase letter that extends above the x height as in lowercase b, d, k.
- Crossbar — The connecting horizontal stroke between two stems, as in A, H; or the projecting stroke necessary for the formation of a letter,
as in f and t.
- Baseline — The line on which type sits.
- Bowl — An enclosed round or oval stroke, as in p, g, O.
- Cap Height — A measurement taken from the baseline of a cap to the top.
- Counter — An enclosed or partially interior space within a character.
- Descender — The stem of a lowercase letter extending below the baseline, as in p, q.
- Ear — The small projecting stroke attached to the bowl of a lowercase g or the stem of a lowercase r.
- Link — Stroke connecting the bowl and loop of a lowercase serif g. (as shown above)
- Loop — Lower section of a lowercase serif g.
- Serif — The horizontal or diagonal strokes drawn across a stem, arm or tail. (as shown above)
- Shoulder — The curved stroke on m, n, and h. (as shown above)
- Spine — The central curving stroke of the letter s.
- Spur — The pointed projection off the main stem of an uppercase G or lowercase b.
- Stem — The main vertical or oblique stroke, as in L, Y, B or V, W, A.
- Stress — The degree of incline formed by the relationship between thicks and thins of the bowl in round non-linear letters. There are two kinds of stress; inclined or vertical. Also known as curve stress or axis.
- Stroke — Straight or curved line on any letter.
- Swash — An exaggerated flourish normally on characters belonging to scripts or brush script typefaces.
- Tail — The descender of a Q or short diagonal stroke on an R.
- Terminal — The end of a stroke without a serif.
- X-height — The height of lowercase letters minus their ascenders and descenders.