34 Typography Terms You Should Know to Make Beautiful Design

34 Typography Terms You Should Know to Make Beautiful Design

One part of the design component is Typography. It’s about making written words legible, clear, and visually appealing to the reader. With good typography, you can inform users, and optimise readability and accessibility, ensuring an excellent user experience with your design.

However, you might need to know Typography Terms to pick a suitable font and apply it effectively to your design. Worry not; we will help you to sort out all those terms and guide you through the lingo. Check these explanations below!

Typography: The Basic You Should Know

First, we need to understand the basics of typography. Typography is an art and technique to arrange a word, character, or letters you see in printed material or design. Typography will affect readability and legibility. Choosing suitable and effective typography will allow you to communicate your design’s central message. There are many terms of Typography; however, to understand basic typography, You will need to understand typefaces, font categories, and styles.

1. Understanding Font/typeface

Fonts and typefaces are two different things. It dates back to the metal type and printing press era. The typeface is about the way a character or letter looks. They were named according to the specific design of the letter. Examples of the typeface are Times New Roman, Calibri, comic, and many more.

Fonts are about the physical embodiment of the typeface. Fonts have various characteristics, such as size, style, and weight. Each of them creates a limitless variation of the font. To simplify, here is an example of a font you might encounter. If there are stated 24-point italics, it means that the font has a size of 24 points or pixels representing its height; the style is italic or slanted version.

Combining typefaces with font, we get a complete description of a letter/character in typography.

2. Character

A character means an Individual symbol of a number, letter, punctuation mark, etc. This term stands for a single individual symbol used in typography.

3. Alternate character/glyph

There is another type of character that is not standard. Generally used for decorative purposes, Glyph is also used for specific languages such as Russian.

4. Serif

A serif is a short line or finishing stroke attached to or extending from a character. You can identify serifs as the extra marks at the end of the letters. It has many shapes, including hairline, wedge, and many other types of shapes. Generally deemed as a classic style of typeface, serif is used in newspaper titles, books, or formal designs.

5. Sans-Serif/Sans

Font without serif is called Sans-serif or sans. Sans-serif means a character/letter without a line/without serif. Sans-serif is deemed as a more modern and bold typeface because it’s easy to read and straightforward. Nowadays, sans-serif is used to emphasize headlines and grab attention.

6. Italic

A slanted version of the basic shape of a letter. This style of the letter is used to emphasize text or foreign language.

Typography Foundations about Spacing and Positioning

In the second part of this article, we will move into the foundation of typography. The foundation consists of spacing and positioning. Understanding these typography terms will help you to modify and improve the letter suitably.

7. Baseline

It is an Imaginary line where letters and characters sit. This is the starting point and the backbone of typography. You should start putting the baseline before working on other elements of typography.

8. Cap line

Imaginary lines mark the upper boundary; this line sets the maximum height you could use for your letter or character.

9. X-Height

The X-Height is imaginary lines that mark the upper boundary and set the maximum heights of lowercase characters. However, x-height does not include descenders and ascenders.

10. Tracking/Letter-Spacing:

The space between characters in a section of text. The spacing is uniform and adds space to each character.

11. Kerning

Kerning is a horizontal space between two characters. Kerning is used to adjust excess or inadequate space. With proper kerning, all characters in a text will appear evenly spaced without large open gaps.

12. Leading/Line Spacing

Leading is a Vertical spacing between lines of text; these lines are measured from baseline to baseline

The Anatomy of a Letter

Each letter/character has different parts. Each part has a name that is similar to the human body for easier understanding.

13. Stroke

A single line that creates parts of the characters.

14. Stem

The vertical stroke of a letterform.

15. Arc of Stem

The curved stroke that is continuous with a stem.

16. Foot

It’s the base of a letter that rests on the baseline.

17. Descender

It’s a stem that extends below the baseline.

18. Ascender

It’s a stem of lowercase letters that rises above the main body or above the x-height.

19. Joint

Similar to the human joint, it’s the point where a stroke connects to a vertical stem.

20. Apex

Have similarities with joints. However, Apex connects the uppermost point of a letterform in which two strokes join. The shape of the apex could be rounded, sharp, or flat according to font and typeface.

21. Vertex

Vertex is the opposite of apex, the point at the bottom of the letterform where two strokes meet.

22. Crotch

It’s a term for the inside angle of a letterform where two strokes meet.

23. Arm

It is a horizontal stroke that only connects one stem in a letterform or character.

24. Leg

It’s a descending stroke from a stem in a letterform.

25. Shoulder

As its name implies, it looks like a shoulder. The shoulder in the letterform is a curved stroke that connects two stems.

26. Bar/Crossbar

It is a horizontal stroke that connects two stems in character.

27. Cross Stroke

It’s a horizontal line that crosses the stem of a letter.

28. Bowl

Its a round or oval curve part of a letter, generally connected with a stem

29. Counter

This is the inside of the bowl or inside the letter.

30. Aperture

It is a negative space created by an open counter.

31. Double-Story

This is a term for a letter that has two counters.

32. Terminal

It’s the end of any stroke of every character.

33. Swash

Is a decorative stroke as an addition to a standard letterform. Generally used to make the letter decorative and more beautiful.

34. Ligature

Is a term for a combination of two or more letters. Generally used for decorative purposes.

With a glossary of typography terms in this article, you can identify a part of typography and help you to make a better and more beautiful design!