Paratype Typographic Glossary

Ancillary mark added to a letter to distinguish it or change its pronunciation.

Abrupt serif

A serif which breaks suddenly from the stem at an angle.


A diacritical mark over, under, or through a letter indicating a variation in pronunciation or changing in stress. Eg. ç, à, ò, é, Å.


An accent used on vowels – б й н у ъ э – in French, Spanish, Italian, Icelandic, Hungarian, Navajo, Gaelic, Czech and many other languages, and on consonants – &#1107 &#1116 &#324 &#341 &#347 &#378 – in Basque, Macedonian, Polish and romanized Sanskrit. In romanized Chinese, it is used with vowels to mark the rising tone. In Russian, it is used on vowels to mark stress in linguistics and text-books. The accented vowels are included in many fonts as composite characters.

Adnate serif

A serif which flows smoothly to or from the stem.


An old name for type size of 5.5 points (~1.94 mm). Also a vertical unit used to measure space in newspaper columns, equal to 5.5 point type.
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison


A set of problematic effects resulting from the usual method of displaying scalable images on low-resolution screens. When converting these images to bitmaps for display, samples are taken from the theoretical mathematical image, usually at the pixel centres. The influence of what is happening at these more or less arbitrary points is thereby greatly exaggerated, causing jagged edges, “pimples” and other undesirable effects. See also Anti-aliasing.


A regularised set of abstract symbols employed in a particular writing system and placed in some order. In the alphabet system each symbol or character marks particular sound of a given speech. The first alphabet systems were invented in the 3rd millennium BC at the East Mediterranean and now they are wide spread over the world for its compactness (usually there are less then a hundred characters per alphabet).


Symbol “&” — a scribal abbreviation for “and”. There are many forms and styles. All of them are derived from the Latin word et. The name originates from the expression “and per se and”. One of the first cases of usage was found in Roman manuscript of 75 AD.


A typographical character used with the alphabet but lacking a place in the alphabetical order. General character set includes figures, punctuation marks, fractions, monetary symbols etc. In some fonts there are analphabetics to compose mathematic formulae, diagrams, maps, ornaments, lines, borders, fleurons etc.

Angle brackets

Left angle bracket “<” and right angle bracket “>”. Angle brackets are useful for many editorial purposes and for mathematics.

Anglo-Am. Points [Anglo-American Points]

Typographic measure system, used in the North America and the United Kingdom. Invented in 1879 by Nelson Hawks. In that system type and lines are measured in points and picas. One point is equal to 0,35146 mm (appr. 1/72 of inch). One pica is equal to 12 points. In the 1980s, Adobe introduced PostScript and corrected the length of point. The PostScript point is precisely 1/72 of inch (0,35278 mm). Text processors and typographic software used PostScript point by default. Therefore that system became de facto a world typographic standard.
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison


One of the solutions of the aliasing problem. In letterforms, jaggedness can be minimized during reconstruction by using various grey levels at the edges of stokes. For example, blurring of a jagged line or edge on a screen to give the appearance of a smooth line.


Another way to describe letters with serifs. Those lower case letterforms are derived from Humanist minuscule of Italian Renaissance and upper case letterforms derived from Roman Capitalis Monumentalis. The first antiqua type was created in Italy and Germany in the second half of the 15th century and was improved in the 1470s by Nicholas Jenson of Venice.


The openings of letters such as C, c, S, s, a and e. Some faces like Futura have large apertures, while others like Helvetica have small apertures. Very large apertures occur in archaic Greek inscriptions and in typefaces such as Lithos, which are derived from them.


The peak of a triangle where two diagonal or vertical and diagonalstrokes meet. Examples: A, M, W etc.


Also called raised comma or single close quote. A mark of elision in many languages. It grew from that use in English to become also a sign of the possessive. [It’s = it is, but John’s = Johnes = John has = belonging to John.] In many Native American and Slavic languages written in Latin script, it is used with consonants — d’ k’ t’ x’ — to indicate modified pronunciation. Used alone, it serves in many languages as a sign for the glottal stop.

Arabic numerals

Figures, Digits

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0. They were borrowed by Europeans from Arabs who borrowed them earlier from Indians. Therefore these numerals are called sometimes Hindu-Arabic numerals. They were wide-spread in Europe from the second part of the 15th century. Arabic numerals are divided into majuscule numerals (lining, range, headline) and minuscule numerals (old style, text). See also Figures.


Segment of a circle or ellipse, sometimes used to describe part of the boundary of a letterform.
See arc in letter ‘p’ on Letter Elements picture


Short horizontal strokes, as in E, F, L, T.


The part of a lowercase letter that rises above the x-height, as in letters ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘f’, ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘t’ and ‘l’.

Ascender line

The imaginary line marking the topmost point of the ascenders within a font; in many fonts, placed above the cap line.


The American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a standard character set defined by ANSI, the American National Standards Institute. Based on 7-bit index, so the maximum number of characters is 128.

Aspect ratio

The ratio of width to height. See Proportion.


A superscript * used primarily as a reference mark. In philology and other sciences, it is used to mark hypothetically reconstructed or fetal forms. There are many forms of the asterisk. It appears in the earliest Sumerian pictographic writing and has been in continuous typographic use for at least 5000 years.


See Exclamation mark.

At sign

Commercial at

A commercial symbol @ that means ‘at’ or ‘at the rate of’. Used mainly in electronic mail addressing and computer operations. It has various forms depending on the typeface but in general it is the italic ‘a’ with surrounding spiral line.


A facility within a font tool to add hints to a font automatically. Most of professional font tools, e.g. FontLab, have such functionality. See Hinting.


An essential element of a letterform. The axis of a letter is the axis of its stroke, which is the angle of the pen used to create the letter. Strokes usually reveal the axis of a letter. Formed by the thinning of the stroke in round letters of Roman origin. In oldstyle types the axis is inclined to the left, while in transitional and modern types it is vertical. Exceptions occur primarily due to vagaries of individual designers. A letter may have multiple axes. Not to be confused with slope.

Ball terminal

A circular form at the end of the arm in letters such as a, c, f, r and y. Examples: Bodoni, Scotch Roman, Clarendon, Basilia.


Horizontal line in the middle of H, A, e etc. See bar in letter ‘e’ on picture


The imaginary line on which the letters of a font sit. See baseline on this picture


A class ofblackletter types. Bastarda appeared in the 14th century as a chancery script. It is an intermediate form between Textura and Rotunda. In Germany it was called Schwabacher (Schwabish script). Lowercase forms are relatively wide with small x-height and visible double break and have a lot of rounded shapes. Caps are wide and simple, with a lot of rounded shapes.
See also Bastarda (Schwabacher) in Classification section.


A sharp spur, found particularly on the f, and also often on a, c, j, r, and y in many 20th century Romans. (Examples: Perpetua, Pontifex, Ignatius.) Also the arm endings on F, E, T and the ending elements on C, S. It may be double or one-sided and vertical or slanted a little.
See beak (spur) in letter ‘b’ on the picture.

Bezier curves

Mathematical equations used to describe the shapes of characters in digital fonts. The Bezier curve was named after Pierre Bezier (1910–99), a French scientist who developed the mathematical representation used to describe the curves. Type 1 fonts use cubic Bezier curves, whilst TrueType uses quadratic ones.


A bicameral alphabet has two alphabets joined. The Latin alphabet, which you are reading, is an example; it has an uppercase and lowercase. Unicameral alphabets (the Arabic and Hebrew alphabets) have only one case.


An array of pixels , used to create an image. The bits are mapped onto the screen or paper.

Bitmap font

Type of font format. A bitmap font describes each letter or symbol as rows of dots, which can quickly and easily be reproduced on a computer screen. However, when the font is enlarged, the dots simply become bigger, causing rough edges or ‘jagging’. Bitmap fonts have now been mostly replaced by vector fonts.


A weight of a type. A blacker, heavier variation of a typeface, relative to the bold variation. Used for headlines and display matters.
See black weight on the Style variation scheme


A general name for a wide variety of letterforms that stem from the north of Europe. Letterforms constructed with a broad-edged pen but emphasizing the transition points between the written strokes. Blackletters are generally tall, narrow, and pointed. In architecture, comparable to Gothic style. There are several classes of Blackletter (Textur, Rotunda, Bastarda, Schwabacher, Fraktur, Kanzlei). The first types of the 15th century were constructed after wide spread Blackletter scripts and later were used along with Romans until the 20th century. Now Blackletter is used mainly in display matters.
See also Blackletters in Classification section.


1. In metal type — the rectangle of metal on which the image of a character was cast.
2. In Photo or digital type — the rectangular notional space occupied by the letter.

Body size

The height of the face of the type. Originally, this meant the height of the face of the metal block on which each individual letter was cast. In digital type, it is the height of its imaginary equivalent, the rectangle defining the space owned by a given letter (different from the dimension of the letter itself).


A weight of a type. A blacker, heavier variation of a typeface, relative to the roman variation. Used for headlines and display matters. The first bold face was created ca. 1800 by London type founder Robert Thorne (1754–1820) as a singular type for poster and display setting. Bold faces were used for text emphasis since the end of the19th century.
See bold weight on the Style variation scheme


A default weight of a type that is normally used for a body text. It is heavier then Light and lighter then Bold weights. Often referred to as Regular, Normal or Roman.


Ornament constructed of decorative units in the form of edging strip. Used for display matters.


An old name for type size of 9 points (~3,14 mm).
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison


The generally round or elliptical forms which are the basic body shape of letters such as C, G, O in the uppercase, and b, c, e, o, p in the lowercase. Also called eye.
See bowl and eye on Letter Elements picture


Braces are rarely required in texts, but they can function as an extra and outer set of parenthesis: {( [-] )}. Their primary use is marking mathematical phrases and sets. They also enclose a complete function in many programming languages.


A joining of a stem of a letter to a serif. This is also referred to as a fillet.


Square brackets are essentials of text typography, used for interpolations into quoted matter and as a secondary and inner set of parenthesis.


One of the upper accents symbolizing shortness. Used on vowels and consonants in Malay, Romanian, Turkish, Vietnamese and other languages. Also the breve is used in phonetic transcriptions to mark lax (‘short’) vowels. The breve is always rounded with the stress in the bottom.


An old name for type size of 8 points (~2,81 mm).
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison


An old name for type size of 3 points (~1,05 mm). The smallest of all type sizes.
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison

Broken script

See Blackletter


A mark used to set off items in a list, frequently a filled circle.


A hand lettering style that relies heavily on contrasting weights in the horizontal and vertical strokes. Generally done with a brush or quill pen.

Cap height

The height from baseline to the top of uppercase letters in a font. This may or may not be the same as the height of ascenders.

Cap line

The imaginary line which represents the uppermost part of capital letters and some characters’ ascenders.
See Cap line on Letter Elements picture


Capitals, or uppercase letters. ALL CAPS LOOK LIKE THIS. A relatively modern innovation. The Romans, Greeks, and Oriental peoples never distinguished capitals from small letters. All these earlier languages used two forms — a carefully drawn form of writing with separate signs on official documents and monuments and a less carefully drawn form of cursive (running) writing with roundish and often joined signs on less official documents, such as letters. During the Middle Ages a form of capital letters called uncials was developed. Uncials (from a Latin word “uncia” meaning “inch-high”) were squarish in shape, with rounded strokes. They were used in Western Europe in handwritten books, side by side with small-letter cursive writing, used in daily life. After the Renaissance and the introduction of printing in Europe, two types of letters were distinguished: the majuscules, which were formed as an imitation of the ancient Latin characters, and the minuscules, which continued the tradition of the medieval cursive writing.

Carolingian [Carolingian minuscule]

The most well known medieval minuscule script. It was developed in the 8–9th centuries under the influence of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus) and named after him. In Carolingian writing the two separate alphabets appeared first, what we call now upper and lowercase. Word spacing and punctuation marks were used for the first time too. Carolingian minuscule was the background on which the Renaissance humanist minuscule of the 14–15th centuries was based.



An inverted circumflex. It is used on consonants and vowels in Slovak, Croatian, Czech, Lapp, Lithuanian and other scripts. It is increasingly used in new scripts for Native American languages. ISO character sets include a precomposed upper- and lowercase s and z with caron, while other combinations, no less frequent in normal text, must be built with the floating accent. Typographers know the caron also by its Czech name, hacek, pronounced “haa-check”.


One of the lower accents, used primarily in French, to soften the C. Also used under consonants in Catalan, Kurdish, Latvian, Portuguese, Rumanian, Turkish and other scripts.


A symbol in writing. A letter, punctuation mark, or figure.


A unit of measurement used to measure typefaces. It is equal to 12 Didot points, a slightly larger continental European counterpart to the American and British point.
See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison


A mark originally used in Greek on long vowels to indicate a rising-falling tone and in other languages to mark length, contraction or a particular vowel quality.


See Slab Serif
See also Clarendon in Classification section.


Code Table

See Encoding
See also Code pages in Tech Notes.

Cold composition

Composition not using cast metal type. Usually for output onto sensitized paper or film. Cold composition is also used to describe forms of “direct” or “strike-on” typesetting devices such as typewriters. See Filmsetting.


A grammatical marker descended from early scribal practice. It is also used in mathematics to indicate ratios and in linguistics as a mark of prolongation. The name ‘colon’ is from Greek.


The overall blackness of a page of text, that is, its average density. Besides, the blackness of a typeface when set in a block.


A grammatical marker, descended from early scribal practice. In German, and often in East European languages, the comma is used as an open quote. Throughout Europe, it is also used as a decimal point, where most North Americans expect a period. In North American usage, the comma separates thousands, while a space is preferred in Europe. Thus 10,000,000 = 10 000 000, but a number such as 10,001 is typographically ambiguous. In Europe it means ten and one one-thousandth; in North America, ten thousand and one.

Composite glyph

A glyph made up of references to other glyphs. In PostScript and TrueType fonts, accented glyphs can be defined as composite glyphs, with one reference to the base letter and another to the accent. Each reference to a component contains a glyph number and repositioning (either an offset from the component’s original position, or a point on the component to match a point on the glyph being built up). It also may have a transformation matrix (for scaling, rotating, etc.).


A narrower version of a font, used to get maximum of characters into a given space, but without compromising the design. A type design variation with less than normal set; thus a tightly spaced font.


Conic curve

A spline curve of second order. In general it’s one of the three curves: a parabola, hyperbola or ellipse which one can obtain by intersecting a plane with a (double sided) cone.


A closed shape, part of an outline. In most fonts, the letters S, i and B have one, two and three contours respectively.


In the analysis of letterforms, this usually refers to the degree of contrast between thick and thin strokes of a given letter. In faces Gill Sans and Helvetica, there is no contrast. In faces such as Bell and Bodoni, the contrast is high.


The white space enclosed by a letterform, whether wholly enclosed, as in d or o, or partially, as in c or m.


A form of punch used to create the counters of a type-making punch.


A horizontal stroke connecting two stems as in A, H, or a simple stroke as in f and t. See also Bar.

Cubic curve

A mathematical curve representation, based on cubic equiations. Cubic Bezier curves are used throughout PostScript, including Type 1 fonts. TrueType uses quadratic curves, not cubic ones.


Typefaces that resemble handwriting, frequently having joins or the suggestion of joins between letters. See also Italic.


One of the two ancient Slavonic alphabets named after St. Cyril (Constantine the Philosopher). It was invented in the 9th century based on the Greek ecclesiastical majuscule script. There were several scribal Cyrillic hands: Ustav, Poluustav, Skoropis’, and Vyaz’. The first printed Cyrillic book was published in Krakow in 1491 by Schweipolt Feol (Feyl, Feyol), and its type was cut by Rudolf Borsdorf (Ludolf Borchdorp) of Braunschweig. Cyrillic alphabet was reformed by Tzar Peter I in 1708–10. As a result the Cyrillic letterforms became close to Roman ones. The Modern Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian alphabets were made-up based on the ancient Cyrillic script. In the 1920–30s alphabets of most former USSR peoples and Mongolia were created based on the Russian alphabet.


A reference mark, used chiefly with footnotes. In European typography, it is also a sign of mortality, used to mark the year of death or the names of deceased persons, and in lexicography to mark obsolete forms. Also called obelisk or long cross.


Standard fonts include, at minimum: an em dash ( — ), an en dash (–) and hyphen (-). A figure dash and three-quarter em dash are often included as well, and a one-third em dash more rarely.

Decorative style

A modifying face used for decoration. There are many kinds of decorative styles: modifying contour (Outline, Inline, Shadow), negative (Cameo), textured, swashed and so on. Sometimes they are separate, not included into type family. Used for headlines and display matters.
See also Decorative in Classification section.

Demi bold [Demi Bold]

A weight of a type, intermediate between Regular and Bold, or between Medium and Bold.
See Style variation scheme


Part of a lowercase letter projecting below the baseline.

Descender line

The lowest imaginary line that a character’s descender extends to, like the line beneath the lowercase ‘j’ and ‘y.’

Design axis

The concept used in multiple master and GX variations technology, for a typographic parameter that can be varied — either by typing a value directly or by using a slider control. Common design axes are weight (from light to bold), width (from condensed to expanded) and optical size (from, say, 6pt to display).


Diacritical Mark, Accent

Ancillary mark added to a letter to distinguish it, stress it or change its pronunciation. Eg. ç, à, ò, é, Å.



An accent used to separate the pronunciation of two consecutive vowels. Similar to the umlaut.


An old name for type size of ~4 points (~1,41 mm).

Didot point

Unit of type measurement in Europe (except Britain); 1 Didot point = 0. 3759 mm.

See details on Typographical Mesurement Systems in Comparison

Digital font

Type stored as mathematical formulae in digital form. This replaced photographic font masters from the late 1960s onwards.


A compound written symbol consisted of two characters. Used to mark phoneme and its variants. Examples: Polish CZ or English SH.


Typographical characters that have no apparent relation to an alphabet. Many dingbats are pictograms — tiny pictures of telephones, skiers, airplanes, churches, and the like, used in the travel industry. Others are more abstract. Also typefaces that consist entirely of symbol characters such as pictures, decorations, arrows and bullets.

Display type

General term for type set larger than surrounding text as in headings or advertisements. Usually 14-point or larger. See also Headline type.


1. Small round character that can be used as a period, bullet or accent mark, …
2. The smallest element of a printed page. See also pixel.

Dot accent

One of the upper (Overdot) or lower (Underdot) diacritics. Overdot is used in Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Turkish and other scripts, and underdot is used in Vietnamese as one of the four tone-marks and in other alphabets.

Dot leader

A row of evenly spaced periods or midpoints, often used by typographers to link flush-left text with flush-right numerals in a table of contents or similar context.

Dots per inch


The measure of resolution for a monitor or printer. High-resolution printers work at over 1200 dpi; most laser printers have a resolution of 300–600 dpi; and monitors around 72 dpi.

Double rule

Two separate lines on one body added to a page for emphasis or decoration.

Double storey

Seen in the lower case “g” with the closed tail and lower case upright finial “a”.

Drop cap

A large initial capital in a paragraph that extends through several lines and is aligned with the top of the first line. This method is used to indicate the start of a new section of a text, such as a chapter.


The trace of a writing pen; the sequence of writing of character elements.


Old Style

The faces were created mainly in Netherlands in the the 17th century based on the Garaldes lettershapes. Early in the 17th century the Elzevir family at Leyden and Amsterdam became major international publishers. Their best types, designed by Christopher van Dyck, are a refinement of Garamond. Later or Baroque old style type generally has more contrast, with a somewhat variable axis, and more slope of italic. Also it has narrow proportion and large x-height.
See also Dutch in Classification section.


The stroke attached to the bowl of the lowercase g. Some typographers use the same term for the lowercase r.


Letterforms having square serifs and almost uniform thickness of strokes. The first known Egyptian was found among London type-founder Vincent Figgins’ specimen of 1815. Named after 1799 Egyptian campaign of Napoleon Bonapart when Europeans discovered the civilization of Ancient Egypt. Also the name ‘Egyptian’ may be connected to the captured French frigate ‘Egyptienne’ taken to London in 1802 as a trophy. See also Slab Serif.


A punctuation mark made up of three dots in a row, indicating that a word or phrase has been omitted.


Em space, Mutton, Quad

The width of a face’s widest letter, the capital ‘M’. For instance, if the M is 10 points wide, an em is equal to 10 points.

Em dash

A dash of the width of the letter “M”. It’s used in text to separate a parenthetical note as an alternate to parenthesis. Also it is often used to indicate a break in a sentence.

Em quad

A square the size of a capital letter M. See also Em space.

Em rule

A rule of em quod width.

Em space

In linear measure, a distance equal to the type size, and in square measure, the square of the type size. Thus an em is 12pt (or a 12 pt square) in 12 pt type. Also called mutton.

Em square

See Body

Em units

Measuring units in PostScript fonts, whose size is defined as 1/1000 of the font’s em square.


The inclusion of font files within a document file or website, so that documents and web pages can appear to all viewers with the intended typefaces. When an application receives a document with embedded fonts, it installs them – usually temporarily – so that the document is displayed and printed correctly.


Half an Em. To avoid misunderstanding when instructions are given orally, typographers often speak of ems as muttons and ens as nuts.

En dash

A dash of the length of the letter N. It is used to indicate a range of values.

En quad

See En space

En space

A space horizontally equal to the half of the type size, and vertically equal to the type size. Also called nut.


Codepage, Code Table

Suite of characters in definite order. Usually Encoding contains a character set that covers languages of similar alphabets. Due to historical reasons two main computer platforms — Mac and Windows use close by set, but different by order encodings for fonts. Parallel encodings — Windows Western and Mac Roman contain the caps and lower case of English alphabet, national letters of the most European languages (Danish, Dutch, French, German, Irish, Iceland, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, etc.), figures, punctuation marks, ligatures and other sorts.


Old Style

The faces were created in England in the first of the 18th century based on the Dutch old style faces of the 17th century. There was London typographer and punch cutter William Caslon the Elder (1692–1766) who designed a new face about 1722. It generally has more contrast, with a somewhat variable axis, and more slope of italic. Serifs were finer and more sharp. Caslon’s old-style designs are still in use and widely adapted.


Letter ß — “double s” ligature. Used in German.

Euro symbol

As of 01/28/2002, the official symbol for European currency — Euro.

Exclamation [Exclamation mark]

A punctuation mark expressing rising intonation. Usually the exclamation mark is used after the phrase, but in some languages as in Spanish the inverted exclamation mark is used also at the beginning of the phrase. In England the exclamation mark is often called a screamer.


A typeface whose letters have been made wider without visually adding weight. Its characters are stretched (or expanded) horizontally while still retaining their original height.

Expert font

Expert set

An additional font designed to accompany a standard font, providing a range of characters not included in the standard character map. With expert fonts installed, you break the 256-character barrier and can usually achieve the typographic richness of metal, with ligatures, small capitals, old-style figures, etc. Expert fonts are useless without their companion standard fonts.


See Expanded


Descenders and ascenders; i.e., the parts of the letterform that extend below the baseline (p, q) or above it (b, d).

Extreme point

The highest, the lowest, and the maximal leftside and rightside points of a character contour.


Synonym for bowl. But large eye means large x-height. Open eye means large aperture. Also the enclosed part of the lowercase ‘e’.


Short for ‘typeface’; the style of a font or set of character images, eg. italic. See Typeface.


Type: a reissue of a historic typeface with all the imperfections and idiosycrasies of the original model.


All variants and sizes of one design, or style of type (weight, width, roman, italic, boldface, etc.).


Numerals, Digits

The signs that mark numbers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0. That symbols are included into the standard Latin character set and into character sets of many other alphabet systems. There are several kinds of typographic figures. For example they may be Lining or Oldstyle, Tabular or Proportional ones. There are Superior figures and Inferior figures too.


Often used as a blanket term to describe any form of post-metal typesetting, whether photographically or digitally based.


A typographic flower or ornament.


In modern usage the term “font” is often confused with “typeface” and “family”. Traditionally, the term “font” (originally spelt “fount” in Britain) represents a complete set of characters or symbols of the same size and style. Fonts can be as small as the basic alphabet or up to hundreds of characters. Some languages, like Japanese, can exceed these numbers, which make them more difficult to access from the standard keyboard. Originally derived from the word “found” as in typefoundry. Now it is used as another name for a single weight or style of a typeface.

Font attributes

Characteristics which apply to the font as a whole (such as the ascent, descent, leading, etc.).


Digital format

The way of letterform digital description, also the way of its encoding. Examples: PostScript Type 1, TrueType, OpenType.


See Type foundry

Foundry type

Metal type for repeated hand setting and therefore cast from a harder alloy than mechanically composed type.


A class of blackletter types. Fraktur appeared in Germany in the beginning of the 16th century and was widely used until the middle of the 20th century. Lowercase forms are narrow with double break and large x-height. There are a lot of calligraphic shapes with swashes and curls. The round lowercase have a vertical stem with double break on one side and a curved line with one break on the other side. Ascenders often have two-sided terminal, descenders are sharp. Caps are wide and very complicated, with a lot of rounded shapes, calligraphic swashes, diamonds and curls.
See also Fraktur in Classification section.


Generally considered “warm” or friendly typestyle, thanks to its origins in Renaissance humanism. Garaldes means the faces based on the work of Francesco Griffo, circa 1499 for Venetian typographer Aldus Manutius (1447–1515) and also the faces based on the types that were designed by French punch cutter Claude Garamond (ca. 1490–1561). The name Garaldes was invented by French scholar Maximilien Vox in 1954 and means the faces similar to GARamond and ALDus. After the death of Aldus in 1515, leadership in type producing shifted to France. There the family Estienne (Stephanus in Latin) printed many books that were beautiful as well as textually significant. Other famous 16th-century French printers were Simon de Colines and Geoffroy Tory. The finest printing of all these Frenchmen was done with types that were designed by Claude Garamond. The main characteristics of that typefaces are low contrast with diagonal stress, cove or bracketed serifs, and a handwriting influence. Acsenders are significantly higher than cap height. First italics were independent designs, and were generally used completely separately. Then italic became additional style to the roman, the slanted capitals appeared.
See also Garalde in Classification section.


(1) The actual shape (bit pattern, outline) of a character image. For example, an italic ‘a’ and a roman ‘a’ are two different glyphs representing the same underlying character. In this strict sense, any two images which differ in shape constitute different glyphs. In this usage, “glyph” is a synonym for “character image”, or simply “image”.
(2) A kind of idealized surface form derived from some combination of underlying characters in some specific context, rather than an actual character image. In this broad usage, two images would constitute the same glyph whenever they have essentially the same topology (as in oblique ‘a’ and roman ‘a’), but different glyphs when one is written with a hooked top and the other without (the way one prints an ‘a’ by hand).


(1) Traditionally a term describing the lettering style of Northern Europe during the period when Johann Gutenberg developed movable type, adapted as the first type.
(2) In the United States, since the 1830s, the term applied to Sans Serif types issued by European typefounders after 1820. The term is never used, however, to describe Sans Serif such as Futura, circa 1926.


An accent used on vowels – à è ì ò ù – in French, Italian, Portuguese, Catalan, Vietnamese and many other languages. In romanized Chinese it marks a falling tone. Vowels with grave are included in the ISO standard character set in composite form.

Greyscale fonts

Fonts that use variations in intensity at the edges of the letters to suppress the effects of aliasing and thus improve the apparent sharpness and fineness of letterforms.



The European term for Sans Serif styles. American printers call them Gothic. In England the abbreviation, grot, is frequently used.


French quotes, Chevrons

Single and double quotes used as quotation marks with the Latin, Cyrillic and Greek alphabets in Europe, Asia and Africa. In French and Italian, the guillemets always point «out», but in German they more frequently point »in«. They are named probably after the name of the 16th century French punchcutter Guilliaume Le Be , who may have invented them.


Hyphenation & Justification

Hyphenation and justification; the determination of line breaks and, if allowed or needed, hyphenation points within words. Also Hand j. Typesetting abbreviation for hyphenation and justification.


The thinnest part of a letter other than the serif. Joins are frequently hairlines. Also, a fine line or rule, the thinnest that can be reproduced in printing.


Simplified form of uncial writing. Half-uncial appeared approximately in the 6th century as a combination of uncial and Rioman cursive lettershapes. An embrio form of lowercase with extenders.



A kind of Cyrillic book handwriting, that is known from the 14th century. Half-Ustav was written faster than Ustav and took its place. Half-Ustav had U&lc, a lot of ligatures and diacritics. Half-Ustav x-height was small with long extenders, stems were a little curved, without serifs. The first Moscow printed dated book “Apostle” published in 1564 was set in type based on Half-Ustav handwriting. Its type was created by Moscow printers Ivan Fyodorov and Pyotr Mstislavets. After Peter the Great type reforms of the beginning of the 18th century Half-Ustav fonts was used only in the church books. A number of new Cyrillic fonts were developed in the 19th and 20th centuries based on Half-Ustav.



(1) Handwriting, as distinguished from printing, has come to refer to the form of writing peculiar to each person. Individuality in handwriting occurs among members of the same family as well as among classmates who are taught the same system of writing by the same teacher. This individualization apparently begins very early in life, when a preschool child is still scribbling and drawing. The teaching of writing normally proceeds in stages. First, children are taught what is called manuscript writing. This is more like printing. Both capital letters and small letters are formed individually and are not run together. The characters are written vertically rather than slantwise. Many letters are made of several individual strokes of the pen. After manuscript writing has been mastered, pupils are taught cursive writing. This term is what many people mean when they use the term handwriting and script. In cursive the letters of a word are written in a continuous motion without lifting the pen from the paper. Thus all the letters of a word are joined. Such writing ordinarily slants to the right, and several of the letters, such as f and s, look very little like the printed or manuscript forms. Generally speaking, manuscript writing is easier to learn and to read, while cursive has the advantage of greater speed in composition. A compromise between manuscript and cursive called joined manuscript is sometimes taught. The letter forms are those of ordinary unjoined manuscript, but many of them (such as m and t) are given “tails” that connect them with the following letters. Joined manuscript may be used to make the transition between manuscript and cursive, or it may be taught as a regular form of handwriting. There is also a very artistic, stylized kind of writing called calligraphy, which is used for decorative manuscripts.
(2) A class of decorative fonts that imitate somebody’s handwriting or calligraphic style, with the exceptions of Blackletters and Old Slavonian fonts that refer to isolate groups. Handwriting fonts are divided depending on the writing tools into flat nib pen, pointed pen, ball pen, brush etc. Besides all the handwriting fonts may be connected and disconnected. The intermediate forms with one-side connecting letters are possible too.
See also Scripts in Classification section.

Headline font

A font that has been designed to look good at large point sizes for use in headlines. Headline fonts generally do not contain a complete set of characters since they do not require a full set of special symbols and punctuation. In mechanical composition systems, type above 14 pt.


One of the writing systems. Its characters (hieroglyphs) are the Ideograms combined withdeterminative characters indicating its phonetic value or general category. Modern Chinese writing system is hieroglyphic as well as writing systems of the Ancient Egypt, Sumerian cuneiforms and Ancient American ideograms.

Hindu-Arabic numerals

see Arabic numerals


Information embedded into font to enhance the appearance of characters printed or imaged at low resolutions (72–600 dpi). ATM and TrueType can take advantage of hints to render more uniformly shaped screen fonts across the character set. All methods of hinting strive to fit (map) the outline of a character onto the pixel grid and produce the most pleasing/recognizable character no matter how coarse the grid is.


Hinting is an approach to the aliasing problem in rendering scalable fonts. It’s a process of applying special instructions to contours of letters that improve font appearance on low-resolution devices.


Type cast on a mechanical composition system.


Humanist letterforms are letterforms originating among the humanists of the Italian Renaissance. They are of two kinds: Roman forms based on Carolingian script, and italic forms, which occur for the first time in Italy in the fifteenth century. Humanist letterforms show the clear trace of a broad-nib pen held by a right-handed scribe. They have a modulated stroke and a humanist axis. Sometimes Humanist faces are referred as Venetian and characterized by a sloping cross-bar on the “e”.
See also Venetian in Classification section.

Humanist Sans

A sub-group of Sans Serif types showing the influence of Humanist and Aldine roman forms.
See also Humanist sans in Classification section.

Humanist Slab Serif

A sub-group of Slab Serif types showing the influence of Humanist and Aldine roman forms.
See also Humanist slab serif in Classification section.

Hungar umlaut

Double acute

An accent used on the vowels o and u in Hungarian and some other languages.


A punctuation mark used in some compound words, such as gastro-intestinal, seventy-five, and mother-in-law. A hyphen is also used to divide a word at the end of a line of type. Hyphens may appear only between syllables. Thus com-pound is properly hyphenated, but compo-und is wrong.


The splitting of a word across lines, as an aid to uniform line breaking.


A symbol which represents a concept or idea.


Ikarus was the original digital outline type technology, developed through the 1970s by Peter Karow at URW in Hamburg. It was the first typeface digitization program to include an interpolation facility. Originally running only on expensive graphics workstations, Ikarus is available now for Macintosh, Windows and Unix workstations from URW++. TrueType and Type 1 fonts can be generated, but its TrueType hinting capabilities are limited – like in most font editing tools.


Device for outputting type and page layouts at high resolution (1000+dpi) onto paper, film or direct to plate.


Small characters, usually smaller than x-heght, placed on or below the baseline and used for footnotes and fractions.


The beginning of a chapter or section is sometimes given emphasis by enlarging the initial letter of the first paragraph. A descending initial aligns the top of the enlarged character with the top of the first line of text, and aligns the bottom of the enlarged character with the base line of the last line of text that it displaces. An ascending initial keeps its baseline aligned with the first line of the paragraph. When an enlarged initial capital is used, the word, phrase, or line which it begins may be set in uppercase or in small caps. If the first word of a proper name is set in this way, the remaining words of the name should be as well.

Ink trap

The features of the letterform that compensate the ink spreads over the letter edges and make the colour of type more even.


A low-level program code in a TrueType glyph description, preprogram or font program, specifying a particular action to perform on the current outline, or on other data structures, or on the program’s own flow of control. Besides manipulating control points, TrueType instructions include looping, conditional branching and function calls, arithmetic and logical operations.

Interletter space

The horizontal space between individual letterforms within a single word. Interletter space may be adjusted as a function of the letters (see kerning), but its proper value is an integral part of the typeface design.


As the outlines of digital type are mathematical formulae, intermediate weights of a typeface can be calculated and created out of two extremes.


The interrobang was introduced in 1962 by Martin Speckter, head of a New York advertising and public relations agency and editor of a magazine called Type Talks. In a Type Talks article, Speckter declared that advertising copywriters needed a new mark to punctuate exclamatory rhetorical questions common in advertising headlines (for example: “What?! Whiter than White?!”). In this type of copy, neither an exclamation point nor a question mark (used alone) could fully convey the writer’s intent. Speckter’s solution was to combine the two marks into a single symbol. Speckter invited readers of Type Talks to coin a name for the new mark, with the stipulation that all proposed names derive from genuine language roots. Suggestions ranged from the simple “rhet” to the tongue-twisting “exclarotive”. Of the names submitted Speckter favored “exclamaquest” and “interrobang” and finally chose the latter. Ideas for how the new punctuation mark should look also poured in. Some designs were more imaginative than practical, but most indicated that the mark be drawn as an exclamation point centered in a question mark, both sharing a common dot.

Interword space

The horizontal space between words in a line. Interword space can be adjusted to achieve justification.


Name of some fonts from a Clarendon group of typefaces. Sometime also used as a synonym of a Egyptian fonts.
See also a Clarendon and a Egyptian in Classification section.


A sort of Slab Serif types which stems are thinner then horizontal strokes and serifs.

See also Italian in Classification section.


A sloped or cursive variation of Roman. In most cases this represents a complementary style of the upright letter, although some of the lowercase letters may change form slightly and the serif structure is different. Modern usage requires an italic to accompany a roman in most types designed for continuous reading.


Generically, placing lines of text in a particular relationship to one or both margins. As distinct from flush left or flush right, justified text has both the left and right margins even.

Justified text

A block of text that has been spaced so that the text aligns on both the left and right margins. Justified text has a more formal appearance, but may be harder to read.


To adjust the length of the line so that it is flush left and right on the measure. Type is commonly set either justified or FL/RR (flush left, ragged right).


A class of blackletter types.


Part of a letter that extends into the space of another. In many alphabets, the Roman f has a kern to the right, the Roman j a kern to the left. As a verb, to kern means to alter the fit of certain letter combinations – TA or VA, for example – so that the limb of one projects over or under the body or limb of the other.

Kerned pairs

Combinations of character pairs where the space between them has been modified to improve readability. One of the fontmetrics.


The adjustment of horizontal space between individual characters in a line of text. Adjustments in kerning are especially important in large display and headline text lines. Without kerning adjustments, many letter combinations can look awkward. The objective of kerning is to create visually equal spaces between all letters so that the eye can move smoothly along the text.
In traditional metal typography, a kern is the part of a letter that extends beyond the left or right edge of the rectangular type body. Some automatic typesetting machines (e.g. the Monotype) could handle kerned type, but others forced all the character to be within the rectangular body. The Linotype was one of the latter, resulting in many inelegant italic letters – it’s the cause of Sabon’s many admirable workarounds. Being fragile, kerns could break off if the type was mishandled. In digital typography, kerning has a different meaning. The old worry about fragility has disappeared (although some old formats, e.g. FNT, still restricted the design to the rectangular body); so the italic f can keep its grace. Digital kerning (or, more precisely, “pair kerning”) allows the spacing between any pair of characters to be specified, allowing, for example, an r following a T to nestle underneath the right-hand bar slightly, or an LY pair to nudge closer together. It is normally the task of the type designer (or digitizer) to devise all the kerning values. In the days of metal, these adjustments were only possible with extreme labour, and were almost never seen. In TrueType, pair kerning has always been possible in the ‘kern’ table, where character combinations are stored with the amount (in font design units) to shift the second character when it comes after the first. Not all applications bother to use kerning information, so the default rectangular body should always be very carefully controlled. Triple-kerning (such as for the occasionally troublesome combination f.”) is supported in OpenType and TrueType GX.


The point where connected curves join.


Long primer

An old name for type size of 10 points (~3,51 mm).

Lacrimal terminal

A swelling, like a teardrop, at the end of the arm of letters such as a, c, f, g, j, r and y. This feature is typical of typefaces from the Late Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, and is present on many recent faces built on Baroque or Neoclassical lines. Examples: Jannon, Van Dijk, Kis, Caslon, Fournier, Baskerville, Bell, Walbaum, Zapf International, Galliard. See also ball terminal and beak terminal.

Laser printer

A high-resolution printer that uses a version of the electrostatic reproduction technology of copying machines to fuse text and graphic images to paper. To print a page, the printer’s controller circuitry receives the printing instructions from the computer and builds a bit map of every dot on a page. The controller ensures that the print engine’s laser transfers a precise replica of this bit map to a photostatically sensitive drum or belt. Switching on and off rapidly, the beam travels across the drum, and as the beam moves, the drum charges the areas exposed to the beam. The charged areas attract toner (electrically charged ink) as the drum rotates past the toner cartridge. An electrically charged wire pulls the toner from the drum onto the paper, and heat rollers fuse the toner to the paper. A second electrically charged wire neutralizes the drum’s electrical charge. See also Resolution.


(1) An alphabet system principally derived from the ancient Roman (Latin) inscriptions. Now it is widely used all over the world.
(2) Type styles characterized by triangular, pointed serifs.


Originally a horizontal strip of soft metal used for vertical spacing between lines of type. Now meaning the vertical distance from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the next. Also called leading.


The amount of space added between lines of text to make the document legible or the total height from baseline to baseline of rows of text. The term originally referred to the thin lead spacers that printers used to physically increase space between lines of metal type. Most applications automatically apply standard leading of 120% of the font’s point size.


The ease with which text is read in ordinary, continuous reading, usually gauged by reading speed and error rate. Also, Readability.


See Character


A single glyph or letter, such as might be found on a page or screen. Also, the design of such a letter.


An art of drawing letters or writing them (Calligraphy). Sometimes lettering is used for printed book decoration instead of typesetting.


Traditional method of relief printing in which individual pieces of type, called sorts, are assembled from cases into lines and blocks of text and printed by inking and direct contact with paper.


Adjusting the average distance between letters in a block of text to fit text into the given space or to improve legibility. Kerning allows adjustments between individual letters; letterspacing is applied to a block of text as a whole. Also called tracking or track kerning. See also Tracking.


Two or more letters tied together into a single letter. In some typefaces, character combinations such as fi and fl overlap, resulting in an unsightly shape. The fi and fl ligatures were designed to improve the appearance of these characters. Ligatures are generally only available in Expert typestyles.


See Linotype


See Leading

Lining figures

Figures of even height, usually matching the capital letters in the font. Usually synonymous with titling figures, but some lining figures are smaller and lighter than the uppercase letters. Opposite of old style figures.

The stroke connecting the bowl and the loop of the lowercase g.


A typesetting machine, invented in 1886 by Ottmar Mergenthaler, that casts slugs containing whole lines of type for relief printing.


A typographic trademark or symbol, frequently using distorted letterforms.


Decorated capitals used as versals or Initials at medieval manuscripts. Named after the place of its appearance in the 11th century (Lombardia, the district of the North Italy).



Noncapital letters such as a, b, c, etc. Derived from the practice of placing these letters in the bottom (lower) case of a pair of typecases.

Machine set

General term for the mechanical casting of metal type.


An upper accent like horizontal line. A diacritic used to mark long vowels a e i o u in Fijian, Hausa, Latvian, Lithuanian, and other languages.


Capital (or other large) letters.


The copper block onto which the steel die for a letter was stamped. The matrix served as the mold used to cast a letter of type in hot-metal composition.

Mean line

The top (imaginary) point of all lowercase characters without ascenders. Also called “x-height”.


The standard length of the line; i.e., column width or width of the overall typeblock, usually measured in picas.

Mechanical composition

See Machi


Font information such as ascent, descent, leading, character width, and kerning.


An old name for type size of 7 points (~2,46 mm).


Archaic term for a lowercase letter, see also majuscule.

Modern serif

A typeface style distinguishable by their sudden-onset vertical stress and strong contrast. Modern serifs and horizontals are very thin, almost hairlines. Although they are very striking, these typefaces are sometimes criticized as cold or harsh, and may not be quite as readable for very extensive text work, such as books. Originated by Firmin Didot in the late 18th century. A number of designers, perhaps semi-independently, created the first modern typefaces in the late 1700s and early 1800s. One of the first, and ultimately the most influential, was Giambattista Bodoni, of Parma, Italy. Today, the most common “modern” typefaces are the dozens of reinterpretations of Bodoni’s work. Although little is seen of Didot, a reinterpretation by J.E. Walbaum (ca. 1800) sees occasional use.

See also Modern Serif in Clessification section.

Monetary symbols

Signs that stand for definite currency. In typography the following signs are used:dollar [$],cent [?],pound sterling [?],euro [€],florin [?] and yen [?].There are some other currency symbols as well as the general currency sign [¤] to mark the currencies which have no currency symbols.


Like typewritten characters, these all have the same width and take up the same amount of space. Use of this type allows figures to be set in vertical rows without leaving a ragged appearance (as opposed to proportional type).


Typesetting machine invented in 1893 by Tolbert Lanston that casts individual letters and assembles them into a block of type, following instructions punched on a paper tape.


A type the thick and thin strokes without any visual contrast.


Device for casting metal type.

Multiple masters

These are Type 1 fonts capable of producing a continuous range of type designs. In effect, a multiple master font is a whole family of type – where all the “in-between” typefaces are available to the font user. MM fonts have from 1 to 4 design axes, most often weight (from light to bold), width (from condensed to expanded) and optical size (from 6pt to display). But a type designer could propose any axis where the extremes are made by moving the same set of outline points. Because you need a master at each extreme, multiple master fonts have 2, 4, 8 or 16 masters for each glyph. The TrueType equivalent of multiple masters, available only on the Macintosh, is GX font variations.


An em. Also called quad.

Mutton rule

The rule of em-width.


See Analphabetic

Non-lining figures

See Text figures


An old name for type size of 6 points (~2,11 mm).

Number sign

See Octothorp


See Figures

Numero sign

The sign stands for number in Russian typography. It was borrowed from France and Germany in 19th century. It is interesting that numero sign now is not used. Now number sign usually is composed from separate letters with period: [No.]. See also Octothorp.


The same as en.


See Dagger


A sloped Roman in which the characters retain their Roman shapes. The inclination is generally less than in a normal italic. Often confused with Italic.


Number sign, Hash

The name of the number sign in England and North America. The name was borrowed from cartography, where it is a symbol for village (Octothorp means eight fields and the sign stands for eight fields and the village in the middle). See also Numero sign.


One of the lower accents used with vowels in Lithuanian, Navajo, Polish and many other scripts. It is like a little hook opened to the right under the letter. As a rule it is connected to the main letter. Also called a nasal hook.

Old English

See Textura.

Old style figures

A poor but common synonym for text figures.

Old Style typeface

Typeface designs derived from 15th-18th century types. The main characteristics of oldstyle typefaces are low contrast with diagonal stress, cove or bracketed serifs (serifs with a rounded join to the stem of the letter), and a handwriting influence. The earliest (Venetian, or Humanist) old style typefaces (originally 15th-16th century) have very minimal contrast, and a sloped cross-bar on the lower-case “e”. Renaissance old style typefaces were created in Italy and France (see Garaldes, 16th century). Italics at this point were still independent designs, and were generally used completely separately. Later or baroque old style type (see Dutch old style, 17th Century) generally has more contrast, with a somewhat variable axis, and more slope of italic. English old style type (18th century) was the last variation of the old style, but some scholars consider English type of 18th century like Transitional.
See also Old style serif in Classification section.


The font format that (in some ways) unites TrueType and Type 1, jointly developed by Adobe and Microsoft. Key features of the old formats live on as the two “flavours” of OpenType, but much information is now identically formatted.
More about OpenType in Tech Notes.


Decoration used in typography. See also Fleuron.


(1) A digital representation of an image (such as an alphabetic character) where solid shapes are represented by the mathematical curves approximating their outlines. Circles, ellipses, quadratic and cubic curves have been used in different outline representations. Outlines are nicely scalable (and transformable in other ways), unlike bitmap representations. Glyph outlines in TrueType consist of a series of points, each being either “on-curve” or “off-curve”. Consecutive on-curve points define a straight line. Consecutive off-curve points have an on-curve point interpolated between them by the scan-converter. A quadratic Bezier curve is defined by a sequence of on-curve, off-curve, on-curve. There’s an index to where each contour ends. Contours are self-closing.
(2) Decorative style as on the left picture.


One of the upper accents used with consonants in Polish and Maltese, with vowels in Lithuanian and Turkish, and in other languages.


A part of a letterform descending below the Baseline. Used in round or angular forms for optical adjusting of letter heights.


A sentence containing every letter of the alphabet. Useful in font demonstrations. Frequently used are phrases like “How razorback-jumping frogs can level six piqued gymnasts!” or “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog”. But less common are “The risque gown makes a very brazen exposure of juicy flesh” or “Jaded zombies acted quaintly but kept driving their oxen forward” or even “The sex life of the woodchuck is a provocative question for most vertebrate zoology majors” and the even more rare “Jelly-like above the high wire, six quaking pachyderms kept the climax of the extravaganza in a dazzling state of flux”.


A font substitution system (in full, PANOSE 1.0) stored in TrueType fonts as 10 digits in the ‘OS/2’ table. Applications wishing to determine the closest installed font to a requested, but absent, font compute the typographic “distance” (that’s a distance measured in 10-dimensional PANOSE-space!) from each installed font to the requested one, whose PANOSE bytes are known. Finally, the installed font with the minimum distance is used. The system was developed by ElseWare Corporation, which was taken over by Hewlett-Packard. There’s also PANOSE 2.0, a major extension into parametric font territory.


Great Primer

An old name for type size of 18 points (~6,33 mm).

Paragraph mark

Also named pilcrow. An old scribal mark used at the beginning of a paragraph or main text section. Also used as a reference mark. The form of paragraph mark widely varies depending of the typeface letterforms.


Double emphasis signs.Used as phrase markers in grammar and in mathematics.


An old name for type size of 5 points (~1,76 mm).


The sign for the end of a sentence. Also called full stop. It was used in Roman inscriptions firstly centered as a midpoint and then in mediaeval manuscripts it was moved to the baseline.



An old name for type size of 8 points (~2,81 mm).

Phonetic types

Sets of phonetic symbols used to fix the sounds of human speech. Mostly known phonetic set is of IPA (International Phonetic Association) alphabet. It consists of phonetic symbols, diacritics and tonemarks. There are some alternate phonetic sets though.


See Filmsetting


A font of assorted mathematical or other symbols, designed to be used as an adjunct to the text fonts. Also see Dingbats.


A unit of measurement equaling 12 points, or 1/6 inch, in the Anglo-American point system. The Didot equivalent of a pica is called cicero.


A symbol which represents a person or object.


See Pi.


See Paragraph mark.


Measure of font size in horizontal direction. Applicable to monospaced (fixed pitch) fonts. States how many characters fit in one inch line of text. Some popular pitches have special names 10 pitch (10 characters in 1 inch) — pica; 12 pitch — elite; 15 pitch — agate.


A dot in a raster image which can be turned on (printed) or off (not printed) to form the image.


A unit of measurement equaling .01383 inch, the basis of the Anglo-American point system. The Didot equivalent, called corps, measures .01483 inch.

Point size

The height of the type body, expressed in points. A standard type measurement system was originally developed by the Parisian type founder Pierre Fournier Le Jeune in 1737. In the days of metal type, the point size was the total number of points in the height of metal type, including the ascent and descent of the letters, and the metal above and below the letters (i.e., built-in leading).


See Half-Ustav


The printer language developed by Adobe Systems, and used in professional printing. Broadly, it works by describing the output as a series of geometric shapes, rather than the traditional rows of dots, making it easier to work at higher and different resolutions. Type 1 fonts use the PostScript language.
More about PostScript Type 1 in Tech Notes.


One of the feature describing the type Style – the angle of character’s slant to the Baseline. Typeface may be described by posture as upright, Oblique (slanted) and Italic. In Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic typefaces with writing direction from left to right the common angle of slanting is right too. The backward angle is used very rarely mainly in cartography. Nevertheless the left angle may consider normal to Arabic and Hebrew scripts with writing direction from right to left.


Character proportion is the relation of character height to character width. Proportion may vary from very condensed styles to extended ones. Standard proportional increments are known as ultra condensed, extra condensed, condensed, normal, expanded, extra expanded, and ultra expanded. Condensed proportions are sometimes referred to as compressed, elongated, or narrow, and expanded styles could be describe as wide, extended, or stratched.

Proportional type

Type whose character widths vary according to the features of the letters (as opposed to Monospaced type).


The metal tool which is source for a block of type. When “punched” against a piece of hot metal, the convex carving of a letter on the punch leaves the impression of that letter.


A person who cuts punches, the engraver of punches.

Punctuation marks

Punctuation marks are the Analphabetic symbols that structure typographically written and printing text. They regulate the reading tempo by marking the intonations, the logical pauses, and the divisions between words and sentences. Some of them are marks of the end of a sentence (Period, Question mark, Exclamation mark, Ellipsis) and others used in the middle of a sentence (Comma, Colon, Semicolon, Dashes, ellipsis). Also there are double punctuation marks used for emphasis of words or phrases (Parantheses, Brackets, Quotes, etc.). Its usage may be different in other languages or they may have different meaning. In each language there are punctuation rules determine its usage.


Handwriting form of the Roman capital script of 3th – 4th century AD (Capitalis Quadrata). It called so for the letters similar to the square by its proportion.

Quadratic curve

A mathematical curve representation, whose highest powers are quadratic (squares). TrueType uses the quadratic formulation of the Bezier curve; PostScript, including Type 1 fonts, uses the cubic form.

Quotation marks


Two-sided punctuation marks used for quotation isolating. There are two classes of quotation marks (Guillemots and single or double comma) used according to the national typographic tradition. In Latin, Cyrillic and Greek, single and double guillemots used as quotation marks in Europe, Asia and Africa. In French and Italian the guillemots always point «out», but in German they more frequently point »in«. In English and Spanish, common usage of quotation marks is ‘this’ and “this”; in German, it is ‚diese‘ and „diese“. In Russian, usage of quotation marks are like in French and German: the main quotation marks are double guillemots («так») and the second ones are double commas („так“). In some other countries, for example in Finland and Sweden, three kinds of of quotation marks are used at once (”this”, »this», or ’this’), but there are no difference between the quotation mark before and after isolating word or phrase. Quotation marks should not be confused with inch sign or sign for seconds of arc (“).


The first six letters in the top alphabet row on a typewriter keyboard. That combination of letters is often used to name the standard keyboard in contrast to other keyboards. When Sholes made his first typewriters, he arranged the letters in alphabetical order. Typists found that the letter bars frequently jammed against each other during typing. Sholes therefore determined the most often-used combinations of letters and separated them as widely as possible so they would not get in each other’s way. The result was today’s QWERTY alpha-numeric keyboard. When computers were invented, its manufacturers — and computer word processor makers as well — continue to install the traditional keyboard.


Right-justified text that is flush with the right margin and ragged at the left margin. Unused space in each line is at its left.


Left-justified text that is flush with the left margin and ragged at the right margin. Unused space in each line is at its right.

Raised cap

A design style in which 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. Compare to a Drop cap.


Left-justified text


Right-justified text


The speed at which continuous text can be read. Also Legibility.


In digital typography, resolution is the fineness of the grain of the typeset image. It is usually measured in dots per inch (dpi). Laser printers, for example, generally have a resolution between 300 and 1000 dpi, and typesetting machines a resolution substantially greater than 1000 dpi. But other factors besides resolution affect the apparent roughness or fineness of the typeset image. These factors include the inherent design of the characters, the skill with which they are digitized, the hinting technology used to compensate for coarse rasterization, and the type of film or paper on which they are reproduced. In monitors, resolution is commonly measured by the number of pixels that can be displayed in a specified area. In either case, more pixels or dots mean a finer graphics image.


An adaptation – often regularized – of an existing typeface design for newer technology or methods of manufacture.


Krouzek, Volle

One of the upper accents used above vowel A in Danish, Norvegian and Swedish, and under vowel U in Czech, and in other languages.


An upright letter, as opposed to a sloped, or Italic, letter. The term also describes a style of type based upon Italian manuscript hands of the fifteenth century.

Roman capitals

The lapidary (stone-engraved) capital letters of Roman Empirean period (from the 1th century BC to the 5th century AD). Although the Roman alphabet took many forms, Capitalis Monumentalis (Roman capitals) have exerted the most influence on lettering and typographic developrment. Many versions of these exist, principally on inscriptions. The most famous example is on the column of Imperor Trajan in Roman Forum from 114 AD. There was no word spaces and words were divided by centerpoints.

Roman cursive

Roman cursive was a current hand written for daily use quickly and with little care, with pointed pen or stylus on papyrus or wax. The shapes of the letters were simplified and often joined, ascenders and descenders appeared, a minuscule-cursive was formed from the majuscule. Majuscule cursive called early Roman cursive, and minuscule one called later Roman cursive.

Roman numerals

The Roman numeral system, in which letters represent numbers, was dominant in Europe for nearly 2,000 years. Roman numerals are hard to manipulate, however, and mathematical calculations generally were done on an abacus. Over time the easier-to-use Arabic numbers replaced Roman numerals. Today Roman numerals are used to indicate dates on monuments and cornerstones and to organize outlines. They also may number the introductory pages of books and the hours on clocks and watches. Seven letters denote numbers in the Roman system: I = 1; V = 5; X = 10; L = 50; C = 100; D = 500; and M = 1,000. Either capital or small letters may be used. Repeating a symbol repeats its value: II = 2. A symbol is not used more than three times in a row: III = 3. When a symbol of lesser value follows one of greater value, the two are added: VI = 6. When a symbol of lesser value is placed before one of greater value, the lesser value is subtracted: IV = 4, XC = 90, CD = 400. Numbers involving 4 or 9 are always written by placing a symbol of lesser value before one of greater value: 24 = XXIV. A bar over a symbol signifies multiplication by 1,000.


A class of blackletter types. Gothic lettering in Italy was not carried to the final development of upwight broken shapes, and remained instead round and broad, and was named Rotunda. Lowercase are relatively wide with modest x-height and long extenders. Round letters have visible one break and a lot of rounded shapes. Caps are wide and simple, with many rounded shapes.
See also Rotunda in Classification section.


A line added to a page for emphasis or decoration.



Rustic capitals were written with a square-edged pen held at a strong and constant slant with a nearly vertical nib. To preserve space of document Rustic letters have narrow proportion.

Sans Serif

From the Latin sans serif without serifs. Sans serif & slab seriftype forms made their first appearances around 1815–1817. Both are marked by simpler letterforms with (usually) relatively uniform strokeweight, lacking significant contrast, often geometric in underlying design. The earliest forms of sans and slab typefaces tended to be heavy, often monolithic, display faces, but there quickly evolved a wide range of styles. Although the earliest designs are not much used today, their descendants are common enough. Sans serif letters have no serifs, as the name suggests. The low contrast and absence of serifs makes most sans typefaces harder to follow for general reading. They are fine for a sentence, passable for a paragraph, but are difficult to use well in, say, the text of a book. The terminology of sans serif types can be confusing: essentially, gothic or grotesque are both generic names for sans serif. In sans serif faces, the italics are often, although not always, simply a sloped (mechanically obliqued) version of the roman letters, making them totally subordinate to the roman. By far the most common sans is Helvetica (1951, Miedinger), despite being abhorred by many typographers. Helvetica does have the advantage of coming in a huge range of weights and widths, which makes it versatile, and its ubiquitous character makes it easy to match. Other general-purpose sans serifs include Univers (Frutiger, 1952+), Arial (Monotype), Franklin Gothic (M.F. Benton, 1903) and Frutiger (Frutiger, 1975). Sprouting from the Art Deco movement in the 1920s and ’30s (see Art Deco), radical geometrical shapes began to be used as the basis for sans serif designs. There are a few other common sans faces which do not fall cleanly into the above categories. Eric Gill’s 1928 Gill Sans has an almost architectural quality, and its greater contrast and humanistic design makes it better-suited than most sans serif typefaces to setting bodies of text. The same can perhaps be said of a number of late 20th Century humanistic sans faces.
See also Sans Serif in Classification section.


See Small Capitals.


A class of blackletter types. The German name for Bastarda.
See also Schwabacher in Classification section.

Screen font

Bitmap fonts used for screen display.


Script typefaces are based on handwriting; but often this is handwriting with either a flexible steel nib pen, or a broad-edged pen, and is thus unlike modern handwriting. Some common scripts based on steel nib styles include Shelley (Carter,1972), Coronet (Middleton, 1937-38), and Snell Roundhand (Carter, 1965, based on Snell ca. 1694). Script faces based more on the broad-edged tradition include the contemporary Park Avenue (Smith, 1933).There are also monoline scripts, which lack significant contrast in the letter strokes. One such is Freestyle Script. Brush typefaces look as if they were drawn with that instrument, which most of them were, at least in the original design from which the metal/film/digital face was created. Some of them resemble sign-painting lettering, such as Balloon (Kaufmann, 1939), Brush Script (Smith, 1942), and Dom Casual (Dom, 1952). Brushwork can also be the basis for script, as with Present Script (Sallaway, 1974) and Mistral (Excoffon, 1953) Although modern typography typically relegates the italic to a second- class citizenship subordinate to the roman, there are still some italic typefaces designed as such in their own right. The best known is doubtless Zapf Chancery (Zapf, 1979). Others include Medici Script (Zapf, 1974) and Poetica (Slimbach, 1992).
See also Scripts in Classification section.

Section mark

A scribal form of double ‘s’, now used mainly for official documents like legal codes and statutes if the text is divided into sections.

Semi bold

A weight of a type, intermediate between book and bold. A blacker, heavier variation of a typeface, relative to the roman variation.


A grammatical marker, combination of colon and comma, derived from European scribal practice. In classical Greek texts, semicolon is used as a question mark.


(1) A stroke added to the beginning or the end of one of the main strokes of a letter. In the roman alphabet, serifs are usually reflexive finishing strokes, forming unilateral or bilateral stops. (They are unilateral if they project only to one side of the main stroke, like the serifs at the head of T and the foot of L, and bilateral if they project to both sides, like the serifs at the foot of T and the head of L.) Transitive serifs — smooth entry or exit strokes — are the norm in italic. There are many descriptive terms for serifs, especially as they have developed in roman faces. They may be not only unilateral or bilateral, but also long or short, thick or thin, pointed or blunt, abrupt or adnate, horizontal or vertical or oblique, tapered, triangular and so on. In blackletters they are frequently scutulate (diamond shaped), and in some script faces, such as Tekton, the serifs are virtually round. (Not all type historians agree that the word serif should be used in the relation to italic letters. But some term is is necessary to denote the difference between, for example, Bembo italic and Gil Sans italic. The former is described as a serified italic, the latter as unserified).
See also a picture of serif styles
(2) The name of typefaces with serifs. See Antiqua.
See also Serif Typefaces in Classification section.

Serifless Roman

See Sans Serif


Total width

The width of a letter and its surrounding space; the space needed to set a line of text in a specific typeface. Some programs have tracking to adjust the typeface to make it set looser or tighter. Also known as “advance width”. See also Width.


A kind of decorated type style. In shaded type each character has something like shadow directed usually to the north-east. That shadow may be black, white with black contour or of any other color. Because of imaginary volume characters in shaded face call 3-dimentions (3-D). The character image (the letter face itself) of such styles may be outline or inline. Useful for headlines and initials.

Shaded rule

A rule consisting of many vertical lines.


In letterpress type, the level of metal upon which the relief letter sits on a piece of type. The shoulder provides support in letterpress printing for kerns that project from adjacent pieces.


The distance between the origin and the left edge of a character (left sidebearing) and the distance between the width line and the right edge of a character (right sidebearing).


of type

The distance between adjacent lines of type with no extra space (leading) added between them. The type design determines how much of this overall space is actually occupied by letters when printed.


Litterally it means ‘fast-writing’. Running Cyrillic handwriting developed in the 14th century and flourished in the 17th century. It was used for formal correspondence as well as for business practice and personal correspondence. There are several variations depending on designation(formal, clerical, civil) and on location (moskovskaya, vilenskaya, kiyevskaya). Best samples demonstrate high calligraphic quality. Letters are characterized by strong calligraphic features, rounded shape, smooth strokes, a number of flourishes, ligatures and abbreviations. Normally distinguished by small lowercase counters, long ascenders and descenders, large-size uppercase. It is not easily translated from script to type due to numerous flourishes and ligatures.

Slab Serif

An abrupt or adnate thick serif, sometimes of the same thickness as a main stroke. Slab serifs are a hallmark of the Egyptian and Clarendon types: two groups of Realist faces produced in substantial numbers since the early nineteenth century. Memphis, Rockwell, and Serifa are examples.
See also Slab serif in Classification section.


See Oblique.


An oblique stroke used for separation in dictionaries and linguistics. Medieval scribes used it as a form of comma. Slash should not be confused with fraction bar or solidus.


The angle of inclination of stems and extenders of letters. Not to be confused with axis. Most (but not all!) italics sloped to the right at something between 2 degrees and 20 degrees.


(1) Character designed to show paragraph breaks.
(2) A solid line of casting type.

Small capitals

Small caps, SC

A set of capital letters having almost the same height as the lowercase x-height (in fact they are a little higher). Small caps are frequently used for cross references and abbreviations. They are known in Europe from the 16th century in printing books. Often abbreviated s.c.


Originally an individual piece of metal type. In the world of digital type, where letters have no physical existence until printed, sort has become almost synonymous with character. That is, it may refer to the pattern or idea instead of its physical incarnation.


Horizontal spacing, i.e., the spacing between words and between letters on a line, is most often measured in ems and ens. An em is a space equal to the current point size. An en is one-half the width of an em. So a 12-point font would have a 12 point em and a 6 point en, while an 8-point font would have an 8 point em and a 4 point en. A regular space between words is held to be one-third of an em.In justified type the inter-word spacing is necessarily going to vary. The more narrow a column-width, the more variation will occur in the spacing of justified type. This is one argument in favor of unjustified text where the line-length is very short. Ideally, words in regular text should not be spaced apart more than an en or less than a quarter em (one “thin space”). Thin spaces are often used to separate dashes from adjacent words, and single quotes from double quotes. Letterspacing is more easily and smoothly accomplished today than in the age of hot type, but it is often abused. When used for effect in headings, it is important to also space the words themselves widely enough apart to separate them clearly. Letter spacing in justified text should be used sparingly.


The central curved stroke of the letter S.


A mathematical curve specified by a number of points and possibly tangents. Also, a drafting tool for drawing such curves.


A projection smaller than a serif that reinforces the point at the end of a curved stroke, as in the capital letter G.


A main stroke that is more or less straight, not part of a bowl. The letter o has no stem; the letter I consists of stem and serifs alone.


The angle at which contrast occurs, usually ranging from vertical to a somewhat back-slanted diagonal. This can best be noted by looking at, for example, the letter “O” and noting if the bottom left is thicker than the top left, and the top right is thicker than the bottom right. If this difference exists, the letter has diagonal stress. If the two halves of the “O” are a mirror image of each other, with the sides thicker than the top/bottom, then the letter has vertical stress. If the top and bottom of the “O” are the same thickness as the sides, there is neither contrast nor stress.


A line which may be expanded in width; or the width of the linear elements that compose characters.


One of the variations in appearance, such as italic and bold, that make up the faces in a type family. The four basic computer styles are Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic.


Letters or symbols positioned slightly below the baseline within a line of text and generally smaller in size.


Small characters above another characters. Used in mathematician and chemistry formulae, fractions, reference marks etc.


Small characters above another characters.


A decorative, flourished variant of a standard Italic letter, more frequently seen in capitals than in lowercase.


Any graphic form such as a letter, number, punctuation mark, or mathematical sign.

Tabular figures

Monospaced figures, i.e. figures with equal Set-width used for tabular setting.


An element of a letter without serif descending below the baseline. For example the tail of the capital Latin Q.


Drop, Lacrimal terminal

A swelling, like a teardrop, at the end of the arm of letters such as a, c, f, g, j, r and y. This feature is typical of typefaces from the Late Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, and is present on many recent faces built on Baroque or Neoclassical lines. Examples: Jannon, Van Dijk, Kis, Caslon, Fournier, Baskerville, Bell, Walbaum, Zapf International, Galliard. Also called lachrymal terminal. See also Ball terminal and Beak terminal


An ending of strokes without serif.


2-line Brevier, Columbia

An old name for type size of 16 points (~6,33 mm).




Any sequence of graphic symbols.

Text faces

Fonts for setting of text material, usually in sizes from 6 to 12 points. Also called body faces.

Text figures

Figures — 1 2 3 … — designed to match the lowercase letters in size and color. Most text figures are and descending forms. Compare lining figures, and titling figures.


A class of blackletter types. Developed as formal book lettering, the early Gothic style of tall, narrow, black letters resembled a woven fabric, and was appropriately named Textura. It was appeared in France from of the 13th century and was widely used in England and Germany. Textura was the model for the first movable type of Johann Gutenberg (ca. 1394–1468) created in the middle of the 15th century. Lowercase letters are narrow with vertical stems, double break, rather large x-height, and short extenders. Calligraphic diamond-like ends are typical for lowercase letters. Caps are rather wide and complicated by their shape, with diamond elements, breaks, double strokes, and curles. Also called Old English.


(1) One of the upper Accents. A wavy line used on vowels in Estonian, Greenlandic, Portuguese, and Vietnamese, and on consonants in Quechua, Spanish, Tagalog and other alphabets.
(2) (ASCII tilde, swung dash) (~) A stock keybord character, used in mathematics as the sign of similarity and in dictionaries as a sign of repetition.

Titling figures

Figures — 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 0 — designed to match the uppercase letters in size and color. Compare text figures.

Titling type

A font of capitals, occupying most of the body of the type. It follows that a 24-point titling type is considerably larger in face than a corresponding 24-point, in which there is a lowercase alphabet.


The overall letterspacing in text. Tracking can also be used to tighten or loosen a block of type. Some programs have automatic tracking options which can add or remove small increments of space between the characters.


“Transitional” type is so-called because of its intermediate position between old style and modern. The distinguishing features of transitional typefaces include vertical stress and slightly higher contrast than old style typefaces, combined with horizontal serifs. The most influential examples are Philippe Grandjean’s “Romain du Roi” for the French Crown around 1702, Pierre Simon Fournier’s work circa 1750, and John Baskerville’s work from 1757 onwards. Although today we remember Baskerville primarily for his typeface designs, in his own time people were much more impressed by his printing, which used an innovative glossy paper and wide margins. Later transitional types begin to move towards “modern” designs. Contrast is accentuated, and serifs are more flattened. Current examples of such are based on originals from approximately 1788-1810, and are dominated by British isles designers, such as Richard Austin (Bell, 1788), William Martin (Bulmer) and Miller & Richard (ScotchRoman). For currently available examples of transitional type, there are many types which bear Baskerville’s name, descending from one or another of his designs. Less common today is P.S. Fournier’s work, although several versions of it are available in digital or metal form. Although Scotch Roman has been a very common face in metal type usage since Monotype’s 1920 revival, it is not a common digital face. Bell, on the other hand, is included in a Microsoft Font Pack, and Bulmer has received more attention since its revival by Monotype in late 1994.
See also Transitional in Classification section.


A digital font format developed by Apple and Microsoft. The rendering engine for this font was built into System 7. It was also built into MS Windows 3.1. Like PostScript Type 1 and Type 3 fonts, it is an outline font format that allows both the screen and printers to scale fonts to display them in any size. Offers a competitive alternative to PostScript font technology.
More about TrueType in Tech Notes.


Originally metal type, now a typeface design or some typeset text.

Type 1

PostScript Type 1 fonts (Also called ATM [Adobe Type Manager] fonts, Type 1, and outline fonts) contains information, in outline form, that allows a postscript printer, or ATM to generate fonts of any size. Most also contain hinting information which allows fonts to be rendered more readable at lower resolutions and small type sizes.
More about PostScript Type 1 in Tech Notes.

Type alloy

Alloy of lead, antimony, and tin for founding of metal type.

Type family

A family of type styles that vary on their weight, proportion, and angle of character slant but have the common family name and similar style features. Also sometimes type family means the same as Typeface.
See Style variation scheme

Type foundry

Originally, a factory in which metal type is made; now any maker of type.

Type height

The height of metal type body from the bottom side to the printing surface (the face of letter). It should not be confused with the height of any character (See x-height and Cap height).


(1) The features by which a character’s design is recognized, hence the word face. Example: The typeface called Bodoni is a Modern design, while Times Roman is a Transitional design.
(2) One of type variants (styles) included in Type family. Typeface styles may vary on their Weight, Proportion, and Posture (be upright, Slanted or Italic). So typeface styles may be described as Light, Book, Bold, Narrow, Expanded and so on.

Typeface classification

Typeface grouping for handling and learning convenience according to letterform, contrast, origin, function etc. There are no only one typeface classification. One of the possible classification provided for Serif, Sans Serif, Decorative, Handwriting, Analphabetic groups of typefaces. Each group may be divided to subgroups depending on letterform and other factors.
See Classification section on this site


Upper and lowercase: the normal form for setting text in the Latin, Greek and Cyrillic alphabets.


See Diaeresis


Uncial letters were developed in Rome in the 4th century and widely used throughout Western Europe, including England and Ireland. From the 10th century Uncial was used on solemn occasions as a script first in combination with Carolingian minuscule, later with different kinds of Gothic hands. Decorative forms of Uncials used as uppercase for headings and initials in medieval scripts and prints were called Lombardic capitals as they arose in Italy (Lombardia) in the 11th century. Uppercase characters have wide proportions, some vertical strokes are curved and arched. Recent uncials are distinguished by strong contrast, thin tapered serifs and multiple calligraphic tails and flourishes.
See also Uncial in Classification section.


An international standard for character mappings, based on an extended (mostly 16-bit) index. Unicode is supported in TrueType and OpenType font formats.


Depending on alignment, this term refers to text which is set flush left, flush right, or centered.


Capital letters such as A, B, C, etc. Derived from the practice of placing these letters in the top (upper) case of a pair of typecases by printers when laying out text.


Early style of Cyrillic scripts known since the 9th century. It’s a large-size, slow formal majuscule type. It’s characterized by nearly square proportions, strong contrast, vertical stems with small serifs, long ascenders and descenders. Upright letters are quite wide, round letters are narrow, pointed, double-angled. Lowercase characters are absent. Later forms of Ustav (14th–15th centuries) have more angular shapes, more even widths of characters, smaller size. Abbreviations, ligatures and diacritics are in use.
See also Ustav in Classification section.

Vector fonts

Type of font format, examples include TrueType and Type 1 formats. A vector font descibes each letter or symbol as a series of geometric shapes, rather than as rows of dots (like a bitmap font). They can easily be resized without losing quality. See also Outline (1).


See Humanist
See also Venetian in Classification section.


Large drawn letters used as capitals with Half-Uncial and other mediaeval minuscules. Also they were used as Initials, frequently decorated and painted. See also Lombardic versals.


See Ring


Scribal Vyaz’ is a decorative style for book titles. Originated in Byzantine books in the 11th century, spread in Russia since late 14th century but flourished in Russia only in the 16th century. One of the major features is a mast ligature (stems of neighbouring letters comprise one stroke). Quite often neighbouring letters are placed one above another and have common strokes, or smaller letters are places inside bigger ones. As a result letters form a continuous ornate band. Vyaz’ is not easily translated from script to type due to numerous ligatures.
See also Vyaz’ in Classification section.


A letter’s relative amount of blackness. Proper terminology for weight has never been precisely determined. In types used for continuous reading, two weights are generally used the original design, called either regular or light, and a boldface. Square serif and sans serif types have as many as eight or nine different weights, differently described by each manufacturer. Most likely this imprecision can never be corrected.
See weights names on Style variation scheme


(1) The width of a line. Type is also measured in width, or set size. A line of type is measured in ems. An em is equal to the square of the type body. It was originally so called because the type body bearing a letter m is square. For example, a pica em is 12 points wide. A space half as wide as the em is called an en. The length of line required to set the alphabet of small, or lowercase, pica letters is 13 ems. If this alphabet takes more than 13 ems, it is said to be a fat or expanded face. If it takes less space, it is said to be lean or condensed.
See example of widths on Style variation scheme

(2) The width of a letter, from the left edge to the right edge of its contour.

Word space

The space between words. When type is set FL/RR, the word space may be of fixed size, but when the type is justified, the word space must be elastic.


The distance between the Baseline and the Midline of an alphabet, which is normally the approximate height of the unextended Lowercase letters – a, c, e, m, n, o, r, s, u, v, w, x, z – and of the torso of b, d, h, k, p, q, y. The relation of x-height to Cap height, and the relation of x-height to length of extenders, are two important characteristics Latin typeface.
See picture.


See Mean line.