Monday, February 1, 2010

Anatomy of Type

The jargon of type...
Yes, even type has it's own special terms and names. 
Of course, it might seem like more meaningless vocabulary.  Yet, knowing knowing the the anatomy of type can help to describe it, identify it and create it.  Amazing how that works.

Capital height- the height of a capital letter( or the length from the baseline to the top of a capital letter)
meanline- this tops letters such as "s", "r", "e" and runs across the curves of "h" and "d"

x-height- the height of a lower case letter (not including the ascenders or descenders)
baseline- what your lovely letters will sit on
serif-the cross strokes (horizonal for slab) at the begining or ending of letters-
stem- consider this the main part of a letter- it can be a vertical stroke (as in "T" or diagonal as in "X")
ascender-the part of a letter that extends above the meanline (or above the x- height)
descender- the part of a letter (character) the hangs below the baseline ("g", "p"...)
bowl- part of a letter that creates a closed area- such as in "p"
counter- the inside space created by the bowl
Small Capital- These are a set of capital letters that are all the x-height of the normal alphabet

Some useful things to keep in mind- the larger the x-height compared to the normal capital- the bigger the letters will appear- in other words type faces with the same point size may variy according to their x-height

typeface is measured from the top of a capital letter to the bottom of a descender (plus a tiny space)

type size is based on  traditional typesetting: the space that letters would occupy when cast out of lead

These are just a few of the basics- but there are tons of books and websites to read up on.
I plan on adding some more stuff- especially the history of type (fun stuff)

American Type Design and Designers  Consuegra
From Gutenberg to Open Type Dodd
The Concise Guide to Type Identification Apicella,Pomeranz, Wiatt
Designing with Type ,The Essential Guide to tYpography Craig
thinking with type ellen lupton     (this is a great one!)

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