Paratype Typographic Glossary

Obelisk

See Dagger

Oblique

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.

Octothorp (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.

Ogonek

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.

OpenType

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.

Ornament

Decoration used in typography. See also Fleuron.

Outline

(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.

Overdot

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

Overhang

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