Glossary of Font Terms

Typograghic diagram font attributes glossary


The part of certain lowercase letters that extends above the x-height of a font.

Ascender Line:
A line marking the topmost point of the cap line.

Back Matter:
Material, such as indices or appendices, that comes after the main text. Also called "end matter".

Base Line:
The line along which the bases of all capital letters (and most lowercase letters) are positioned.

Boldface Type:
A thick, heavy variety of type, often used for emphasis.

Cap Height:
The height of the uppercase letters within a font.

Cap Line:
A line marking the height of uppercase letters within a font.

Condensed Type:
Type that is narrow in width proportionate to its height.

The part of certain lowercase letters that extends below the base line of the letter.

Descender Line:
A line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.

Display Type:
Type intended to catch the eye, usually of a large size and distinctive typeface.

A unit of measurement equal to the current type size, e.g., an em in 12-point type is equal to 12 points. Originally derived from the width of the upper-case M.

A unit of measurement equal to half of one em.

End Matter:
See back matter.

Expanded Type:
Type that is elongated in width proportionate to its height.

Extended Type:
See expanded type.

Aligned to the margin, i.e., with no indention.

A page number.

Traditionally, a complete set of characters for one typeface at one particular type size. Often used more loosely as a synonym for "typeface".

Front Matter:
Material, such as a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents, etc., that comes before the main text.

Full Measure:
Type that extends across the full width of the page or column, without indention.

Golden Section:
The ideal proportion according to the ancient Greeks. It is visualized as the division of a line into two unequal segments in such a way that the ratio of the smaller segment to the larger segment is equal to the ratio of the larger to the whole. It is usually defined as 21:34, that is, 21/34 and 34/(21+34) both equal approximately 0.618. A rectangle whose sides are of this proportion is called a "golden rectangle". Golden rectangles can be found in the proportions of the Parthenon and many medieval manuscripts.

The inner margin of a page, closest to the binding.

Hanging Indention:
Type set with the first line of the paragraph flush left, and the subsequent lines indented.

The amount by which a line of type is set less than a full measure, as when the first line of a paragraph is begun with a blank space of some fixed width.

A slanted variety of typeface, often substituted for underlining.

Slight adjustments made to the space bands within a line of type so that it fully extends to a particular line length.

Reducing the space between letters that can overlap, such as AWAY To etc.. Now a function of our computers, formerly accomplished by cutting the corners off lead type.

Strings of a character, usually periods or dashes, to lead the eye across the space between items in adjacent columns. Usually found in tables, such as tables of contents.

(Pronounced "ledding") The amount of vertical space between lines of type.

Letter spacing:
Extra space inserted between letters in a word.

A special double character in a font representing two letters as one. In modern typography, the most common ligatures are: fi, fl, ffi, ffl, and sometimes ff. Others include the vowel pairs ae and oe, and more rarely, ct, st, and sp.

The blank areas beyond the edges of the type page.

The mold used to cast a letter of type in hot-metal composition. pl. matrices

A unit of measurement traditionally equal to about 1/6 inch. (In some modern typesetting systems, a pica is treated as exactly 1/6 inch.) There are 12 points to a pica.

A unit of measurement, often used to measure type size, equal to 0.013837 inch. Some modern typesetting systems consider the point to be 1/72 of an inch, or 0.013888... inch.

Recto Pages:
The odd numbered, right-hand pages of a book.

A line added to a page for emphasis or decoration.

Running Foot:
Material, such as book title, chapter title, author's name, or folio, printed below the main text of a page.

Running Head:
Material, such as book title, chapter title, author's name, or folio, printed above the main text of a page.

San-Serif Type:
Text using typefaces that have no serifs, such as Helvetica, Optima, or Futura.

A small cross stroke accentuating the end of the main stroke of a letter in some typefaces.

Serif Type:
Text using typefaces that have serifs, such as Times, Baskerville, or Courier. Also called "roman," although "roman" is also used to describe type that is neither italic nor bold.

Swash Letters:
Elaborate italic letters used for decorative initials and headings.

Type Page:
The area of the page which includes all printed matter, including running heads, running footers, and folios, but not including margins.

Type Size:
The size of type, measured in points between the bottom of the descender and the top of the ascender.

Verso Pages:
The even numbered, left-hand pages of a book.

The last line of a paragraph occurring at the top of a page.

The height of those lowercase letters such as "x", which have no ascenders or descenders.

X Line:
A line marking the top of those lowercase letters, such as "x", having no ascenders. The upper boundary of x-height.

Glossary of Information Technology Terms