Type Anatomy

An Intro to Typography

I apologize for the annoying host, but the information is good. Oh look, here comes another…

Typography, Lesson 2

I know, I know. She’s nearly intolerable, but she’s informative. That’s not the last you will see of her. Maybe it’s just the editing that makes these so hard to watch. Or maybe it’s just me. Sigh.

Back to the task at hand. Anatomy! Parts of type!

Here is the anatomy handout.

The anatomy of type has a long and winding tradition. Its vocabulary has evolved over the centuries and reflects the humor and preoccupations of the people who helped forge it.

In order to tell one font from another, use the parts of the letterforms to tell you what is what. Once you become more aware of the subtle differences between fonts, you will be able to judge them more easily.

Arm/leg
An upper or lower (horizontal or diagonal) stroke that is attached on one end and free on the other.

Ascender
The part of a lowercase character (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) that extends above the x-height.

Bar
The horizontal stroke in characters such as A, H, R, e, and f.

Bowl
A curved stroke which creates an enclosed space within a character (the space is then called a counter).

Cap Height
The height of capital letters from the baseline to the top of caps, most accurately measured on a character with a flat bottom (E, H, I, etc.).

Counter
The partially or fully enclosed space within a character.

Descender – The part of a character (g, j, p, q, y, and sometimes J) that descends below the baseline.

Ear
The small stroke that projects from the top of the lowercase g.

Link
The stroke that connects the top and bottom part (bowl and loop) of a two–story lowercase g.

Loop
The lower portion of the lowercase g.

Serif 
The projections extending off the main strokes of the characters of serif typefaces. Serifs come in two styles: bracketed and unbracketed. Brackets are the supportive curves which connect the serif to the stroke. Unbracketed serifs are attached sharply, and usually at 90 degree angles.

Shoulder
The curved stroke of the h, m, n.

Spine
The main curved stroke of the S.

Spur
A small projection off a main stroke found on many capital Gs.

Stem
A straight vertical stroke (or the main straight diagonal stroke in a letter which has no verticals).

Stress
The direction of thickening in a curved stroke.

Stroke
A straight or curved line.

Swash
A fancy flourish replacing a terminal or serif.

Tail
The descender of a Q or short diagonal stroke of an R.

Terminal
The end of a stroke not terminated with a serif.

X-height
The height of lowercase letters, specifically the lowercase x, not including ascenders and descenders.

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