Paratype Typographic Glossary

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.