Paratype Typographic Glossary

Machine set

General term for the mechanical casting of metal type.

Macron

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.

Majuscules

Capital (or other large) letters.

Matrix

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”.

Measure

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

Mechanical composition

See Machi

Metrics

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

Minion

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

Minuscules

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.

Monospaced

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).

Monotype

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.

Monoweight

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

Mould

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.

Mutton

An em. Also called quad.

Mutton rule

The rule of em-width.