Typefaces ↓ Designers ↓ Foundries ↓ Terminology


Abrupt Serif - A serif which breaks suddenly from the stem at an angle.
Accent - A diacritical mark near or through a letter indicating a variation in pronunciation.
Addressing Resolution - The degree of fineness of position that the computer can specify for an output device.
Adnate Serif - A serif which flows smoothly to or from the stem.
Aliasing - The misrepresentation of high frequencies from the original signal as low frequencies in the sampled result, due to undersampling. Aliasing distorts the letterforms and letter spacing.
Alphabet - A set of abstract symbols employed in a particular writing system.
Analog Letterform - A glyph, drawn or printed, sometimes used as a model for creating a similar digitized shape. Analog letterform designs maybe expressed as smooth curves that are then digitized.
Analphabetic - A typographical character used with the alphabet but lacking a place in the alphabetical order.
Anisotropic Scaling - Enlarging or shrinking letters nonlinearly, so that, for example, they become disproportionately less bold and narrower for ther height as they are enlarged. Such transformations can create some of the traditional variations in shape of typefaces at different sizes.
Anisotropy - A property of some output devices that gives different results on the x- and y-axes. In CRT, for example, black features crossed by the scan are narrowed preferentially compared with those running parrallel to the scan.
Anti-aliasing - Removing alias frequencies from the sampled signal. In letterfoms, jaggedness can be minimized during reconstruction by using various grey levels at the edges of stokes.
Antiqua - Another way to describe letters with serifs.
Arc - Segment of a circle or ellipse, sometimes used to describe part of the boundary of a letterform.
Ascender - That part of a lowercase letter that rises above the x-height, as in letters 'b', 'd', 'f', 'h', 'k', 't' and 'l'.
ASCII - The American Standard Code for Information Interchange, a standard character set defined by ANSI, the American National Standards Institure.
Aspect Ratio - The ratio of width to height.
Assimilation - The symmetry propert possessed in varying degrees by a typeface that creates mirror relationships and other similarities of form between letters.
Asymmetry - Aspects of letterforms that depart from mirror images relationships between letter pairs, especially 'b-d' and 'p-q', and within individual letters, such as 'T' in some typefaces.
Axis - The real or imaginary straight line on which a letterform rotates.


Back Up - To match the vertical position of lines on the opposite sides of a sheet printed on both sides.
Back Ground - The field on which a letter or graphic appears; the blank paper or screen on which the image is formed.
Ball Terminal - A circular form at the end of the arm in letters such as a, c, f, j, r, and y. Examples of faces which use ball terminals are Bodoni and Clarendon.
Baseline - The line on which letterforms rest.
Beak Terminal - A sharp spur, found particularly on the f, and also often on a, c, j, r, and y in many 20th century Romans.
Bézier Splines - A class of third-degree interpolating splines useful for representing letterform shapes.
Bicameral - A bicameral alphabet has two alphabets joined.
Bitmap - An array of intensity values, normally rectangular, used to create an image, as on a screen or on paper. The bits are mapped onto the screen or paper.
Bitmapped Display - An output device that portrays a bitmap image. A raster display is a bitmap display in which the bitmap data are scanned line by line.
Blackletter - A general name for a wide variety of letterforms that stem from the north of Europe.
Blackness - The apparent darkness of type as it appears on the page.
Bleed - An image that extends to the edge of the paper (after trimming).
Body Size - The height of the face of the type.
Bold - A blacker, heavier variation of a typeface, relative to the roman variation.
Break - Deciding how much text shall appear on each line or page of a document.
Brightness - The perceived intensity level of light in a visual scene.
Brilliance - Property of a typeface related to its typographic contrast. Also referred to as sparkle.
Bullet - A mark used to set off items in a list, frequently a filled circle.


Calligraphic Display - An image-display device that produces images by directly creating lines, arcs, and so on, as opposed to a bitmap display. Also called a stroke display.
Cap Height - The distance from baseline to cap line of an alphabet, which is the approximate height of the uppercase letters.
Cedilla Ç - The accent, used primarily in French, to soften the letter C.
Cell Text - A monospaced typeface, usually associated with older display devices.
Centered - Text set so as to distribute residual space on the line equally to the right and left.
Character - An abstract symbol, represend within a computer by a numerical code. Also, a symbol in a font or glyph.
Character Set - An ordered set of abstract symbols, used ti represent and exchange information, in which a paricular symbol is represented by its index.
Chase - Rectangular frame used to lock lines of metal type into position in letterpress use.
Chromatic Aberration - An aberration in an optical system that causes light of different colours to be focused in different planes.
Cicero - A unit of measurement used to measure typefaces. It is equal to 12 Didot points, the slightly larger continental European counterpart to the American and British point.
Classical Type Style - Letterforms having vertical axis, adnate serifs, teardrop terminals and moderate aperture.
Colophon - A description of how a book was produced, normally at the end. Also, a printers' mark or emblem.
Colour: Typography - The overall blackness of a page of text, that is, its average density. By extersion, the blackness of a typeface when set in a block.
Compound Document - A document that contains, in addition to text, graphics, images, or other non-textual components.
Condensed - A type design variation with less than normal set; thus a tightly spaced font.
Conic Spline - A spline curve of order two.
Contrast - The ratio of thickness of vertical to horizontal strokes in letterforms.
Counter - The white space enclosed by a letterform, whether wholly enclosed (as in "d" or "o") or partially (as in "c" or "m").
Cubic Splines - A spline curve of order three.
Cursive - Typefaces that resemble handwriting, frequently having joins or the suggestion of joins between letters.


DDL - A page-description language developed by Imagen Corporation.
Decode - In reading, to identify letters and words.
DECpage - A document-formatting system developed by Digital Equipment Corporation.
Demand publishing - Creation of printed documents in small runs or even in single copies, as needed.
Demerits - A point system used to rate the quality of a particular arrangement of type, for example, when line breaking in TEX.
Dentation - The vertical extent on the page of a block of print.
Depth - An ordered set of abstract symbols, used ti represent and exchange information, in which a paricular symbol is represented by its index.
Descender - That portion of a letter that falls below the baseline, as in 'j', 'g', 'q', 'p' and 'y'.
Desktop Publishing - Direct printing of typeset material using small, relatively inexpensive computers and printers under the direct control of the creator of the material.
Diacritical mark - An accent or other three. ancillary mark added to a letter to distinguish it or change its pronunciation.
Diaresis - The accent used to separate the pronunciation of two consecutive vowels, as in coördinating. Similar to the umlaut.
Didot point - Unit of type measurement in Europe (except Britain); 1 Didot point = 0. 3 759 mm.
Digital halftoning - The simulation of continuous-tone pictures by the algorithmic arrangement of bivalued picture elements. Also called spatial dithering.
Digital typography - The technology of using computers for the presentation of text, in which the letters themselves are created and positioned under digital control.
Digitisation error - The loss of information in the sampling of a signal.
Digitise - To sample an analogue signal and represent the results in a numeric form.
Dingbat - A special symbol not a part of any particular typeface, including arrows, mathematical signs such as square root, and bullets.
Direct manipulation - Style of user interface in which the user modifies or moves parts of the document using a pointing device such as a mouse.
Display (typography) - Large sizes of type, for use as headlines, titles, and so forth.
Display Type - General term for type set larger than surrounding text as in headings or advertisements. Usually 14-point or larger.
Displayed formulas - Sequences of lines of mathematical notation included within running text.
Dithering - Spatial dithering, the method of creating digital halftones.
Document model - An external myth that presents textual and graphical information as (simulated) paper documents.
Document - Any "printed" image stored in a computer or realised on a piece of paper.
Dots per inch (dpi) - Measure of the resolution of input and output devices.
Double Storey - Seen in the lower case "g" with the closed tail and lower case upright finial "a".
Download - Sending new fonts to your printer so that it learns how to print characters in that font is called downloading.
Draft printing - Printing a test copy of a document before printing it in final form.
Drop Cap - A large initial capital in a paragraph that extends through several lines.
Drop Folio - A folio (page number) dropped to the foot of the page when the folios on other pages are carried at the top.
Dyslexia - A perceptual aberration, one form of which causes confusion of mirror-image letter pairs, especially 'p-q' and 'b-d'.


Edge enhancement (image processing) - An image-processing technique that identifies the boundaries of objects and increases their contrast.
Edge enhancement (perception) - The sharpening of edges in an image by the visual system.
Egyptian Type - Letterforms having square serifs and almost uniform thickness of strokes.
Electrographic printer - A printer that uses a direct electrostaticprinting process in which charge is placed directly on the paper and then developed to form an image by the application of toner.
Electronic publishing - Digital typography.
Elite - A typewriter (monospaced) typeface with a pitch of 12 char, acters per inch.
Em Space - A distance equal to the type size - 12 points in a 12 point typeface, 11 points in an 11 point typeface and so on. Also known as a "mutton".
Emdash - A dash the width of the letter "m" used in text to separate a parenthetical note as an alternate to parenthesis.
En space - Half an em. Also known as a "nut".
Endnote - A piece of text associated with the body of a document, like a foot-note but placed at the end of a section or chapter.
Erosion - The thinning of the vertical strokes in letter forms that results from characteristics of the output device.
Expanded - A type design variation with more than normal set. Thus, a loosely spaced or wider than normal font.
Extended - See Expanded.
Extender - Descenders and ascender; i.e., the parts of the letterform that extend below the baseline (p, q) or above it (b, d).
Extensional specification - In a document formatter, the detailed specification of formatting information such as spacing, margins, and font, as opposed to intentional specification, in which the purpose of a passage is described, for example, verse.


Facsimile - Electronic representation of images, often entire documents, for transmission over a distance, frequently by a telephone or computer network using digital encoding.
Family - A related set of typefaces.
Fields - The portions of a displayed frame that are scanned alternately in an interlaced refreshing scheme.
Figure (perception) - The object seen, as separated in the act of seeing from everything else in the image.
Figure (typography) - A picture or diagram that may be included within the body of a typeset document.
Figures (lining) - Modern numbers, all of which rest on the baseline.
Figures (nonlining) - Old-styled numbers, some of which (3,4,5,7,9) descend below the baseline.
Fill - The graphical operation of reproducing a pattern or colour through, out a bounded area.
Fixation - The stopping of the eye to sample the visual scene. Even during fixations, there are continual small motions of the eye.
Fixed pitch - Monospaced type.
Fleuron - A printer's flower or ornament.
Flicker fusion frequency - The temporal rate of intensity variation of alight or image at which a particular person sees the light as steady.
Floating object - An illustration, table, or diagram that the document formatter is free to place in various places relative to the running text.
Flower - A printer's decorative symbol. Also called a fleuron.
Flush left - Setting lines of text so that any extra space is on the right, and the text is against the left margin. Also called ragged right.
Flush right - Setting lines of text so that any extra space is on the left, and the text is against the right margin.
Folio - A page number, for example as part of a running head or foot.
Font - A set of characters.
Footnote - A floating note associated with a location and reference mark in a text and displayed at the bottom of the page on which the mark occurs.
Foreground - The image or figure, as opposed to the background.
Foundry - Originally, a factory in which metal type is made; now any maker of type.
Fourier transform - The mathematical transformation that allows a function in time or space to be examined in terms of its frequency components.
Fovea - In the eye, the small, central region of the retina that exhibits the greatest sensitivity to detail and colour.


Galley - In traditional typesetting, a proof of the running text, tables, or figures, before these parts are combined to form pages.
Gestalt - The perceptual process of separating figure and ground to create an overall visual understanding of an image.
Glyph - The actual shape (bit pattern, outline) of a character image.
Greyscale fonts - Fonts that use variations in intensity at the edges of the letters to suppress the effects of aliasing and thus improve the apparent sharpness and fineness of letterforms.
Greeking - The use of gray bars or "dummy" characters to represent text that is too small to be legible when displayed on the screen. Also, in graphic design, the use of dummy text in a layout so that the design of the document will be emphasized rather than its content.
Grid: engineering - A control structure in a CRT, used to modulate the intensity of the electron beam, and thus the brightness of spots on the phosphor screen.
Grid (typography) - A graphical layout for the design of pages of a book or other document. Variations on pages must match divisions in the grid.
Grotesk - Another way to describe letters without serifs.
Ground (perception) - That part of an image that is seen as the background, rather than the perceived object, called the figure.
Gutenberg: unit of measure - A unit of linear measure equal to 1/7200 inch, or about 1/100 of a point.


Hand j - Also H/J. Typesetting abbreviation for hyphenation and justification.
Hairline - The thinnest part of a letter other than the serif.
Half-bitting - The manipulation of the edges of graphic images so as to minimise the effects of aliasing and reconstruction errors. Also called dentation.
Half tone - A method of simulating continuous-tone images with a device that has a small number of output tones, colours, or intensities.
Heading - Text that introduces sections of text, set off from the text by differences in size, typeface, or position.
Hershey fonts - A public-domain set of typefaces specified as strokes, originally for pen-and-ink plotters, still used in rasterized bitmap form.
Hinting - The process of defining outlines for digital type when resolution is low or sizes are small.
Hints - When a character is described in outline format the outline has unlimited resolution.
Humanist Type Style - Letterforms which originate from the humanists of the Italian Renaissance.
Hyperacuity - A perceptual phenomenon in which spatial frequencies much higher than usual are detected.
Hypertext - A system proposed by Ted Nelson and others in which a rich structure of interconnections is created and used within on-line electronic documents.
Hyphenation - The splitting of a word across lines, as an aid to uniform line breaking.


Illusions - Perceptions created in the visual system and brain that differ from the "objective" environment as measured by physical instruments.
Image - Bitmap pictures, often representing real scenes as viewed by a camera, as opposed to text or line graphics.
Image contrast - The ratio of the maximum luminance (intensity) in an image to the minimum luminance.
Imposition - In printing, the arranging of pages on a larger sheet in the correct order and orientation so that when the sheet is folded the pages will appear in order.
Indentation - Insetting a line of text in from the margin, as at the beginning of a paragraph or within an outline, or to set off a quotation.
Inking - The electronic filling of regions on a display.
Inline font specification - A pen path that, in conjunction with a pen shape for marking along the path, specifies a letterform.
Intensity - The luminance of light.
Intensity contrast - See image contrast.
Intentional specification - In a document formatter, the functional specification of formatting information without providing details of spacing, margins, font, or the like, as opposed to extensional specification, in which detailed formatting changes are described.
Interchange protocol - A communications convention or standard that describes how information is represented and transmitted from point to point or between (dissimilar) systems.
Interlaced display - A technique used with CRT displays to reduce the data rate at which the display must be refreshed. Two fields, containing alternate lines, are refreshed alternately.
Interleaf - A compound-document editor for workstations, created by Interleaf Corporation.
Interletter space - The horizontal space between individual letterforms within a single word.
International Typographic Style - Typographers and designers based their designs on mathematical grids.
Interpolating curves - Parametric curves that are constrained to pass through the control points that specify them.
Interword space - The horizontal space between words on a line. Interword space can be adjusted to achieve justification.
ISO - International Organization for Standardization, headquartered in Geneva. an agency for international cooperation on industrial and scientific standards.
Italic - A type design that is both slanted and script like cursive.
ITC - International Typeface Corporation, a major vendor of typefaces.


Jaggies - The stepped effect of bit-mapped type and graphics caused when square pixels represent diagonal or curved lines.
Joint - The point in common between two adjoining segments of a spline curve.
Justification - Generically, placing lines of text in a particular relationship to one or both margins. As distinct from flush left or flush right, justified text has both the left and right margins even.


Kern - As a noun, part of a letter that extends into the space of another. As a verb, To alter the fit of certain letter combinations so that the limb of one projects over or under the body or limb of another.
Knot - The point where connected curves join.
Landscape orientation - A layout wider than it is high, whether on screen or paper.


Lateral inhibition - The basic means by which edges are detected in the retina. Adjacent excitatory and inhibitory regions signal differences in illumination between them.
Leading - Originally a horizontal strip of soft metal used for vertical spacing between lines of type. Now meaning the vertical distance from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the next.
Leading - Originally a horizontal strip of soft metal used for vertical spacing between lines of type. Now meaning the vertical distance from the baseline of one line to the baseline of the next.
Left justify - Setting text against the left margin, that is, with unused space all placed at the right. Also called ragged right.
Legibility - The ease with which text is read in ordinary, continuous reading, usually gauged by reading speed and error rate. Also, Readability.
Letterform - A single glyph or letter, such as might be found on a page or screen. Also, the design of such a letter.
Letterpress - Traditional method of relief printing in which individual pieces of type, called sorts, are assembled from cases into lines and blocks of text and printed by inking and direct contact with paper.
Letterspacing - Adjustment of the interletter space within words so as to achieve equal optical space, or sometimes line justification.
Ligature - Two or more letters tied into a single character to perfectly design their spatial interaction.
Lines per inch (LPI) - The spatial resolution of a device, photographic emulsion, and so forth, expressed as the greatest number of parallel lines per inch that can be resolved.
Lowercase - Small letters used in printing that evolved from the Caroline minuscules of approximately 800 A. D.


Majuscule - A capital (or other large) letter.
Margin - The blank space to the left, right, above, and below the text on a page.
Minuscule - Archaic term for a lowercase letter, see also majuscule.
Mood of type - The subjective feeling imparted by a typeface, layout, or page of type.
Movable type - What Gutenberg invented-individual letters cast on independent metal bodies, for assembly into blocks for printing.


Oblique - A slanted type design, following the letter shapes of the roman variation, as opposed to italic, which is also cursive.
Offset printing - Printing method in which an image is developed on one surface and transferred (offset) onto another, and eventually onto the paper.
Oldstyle typeface - A group of typefaces typified by oblique, bracketed serifs.
Optical spacing - Positioning of letters so that they are perceived as having
Orphan - A header or the first line of a paragraph that appear as the last line on a page.


Pi font - A font of special symbols not in the standard character set.
Pica - A unit of typographic measure, equal to 12 points, or about 1/6 inch.
Point - A unit of measure used by printers, equal to 1/72 inch. See also Didot point.
Point size - The height of a font, expressed in points.


Roman - The classical style of type that is upright, as opposed to oblique, is of normal weight as opposed to light or bold, and has graduated thick and thin strokes as opposed to being cursive.
Rule - A thin line, either vertical or horizontal, often used to separate parts of a table or columns of text.


Weight - Heaviness or blackness of letters. Numerically, the ratio of the widths of vertical strokes to the x-height.


X-Height - The height of a lowercase letter 'x' in a particular font.