Like any other field of interest, typography has it’s own language. From the early years of moveable type to the first Mac introduced in 1984, that language has continued to evolve. That’s all fine and good – but as the craft of typography has moved from the analog (literally setting type by hand) to the digital (on screen manipulation), the language has grown.
I think anyone that works in a particular field should have a clear and precise understanding of the jargon that emanates from that field (myself included).
This interests me because I came upon a list of type-related terms the other day and was struck by how often I confuse them and use them incorrectly.
Check out the list below and see how well you do…
Ascender – portion of a lowercase character extending above the height of a lowercase x (e.g., b, d, f, h, k, l)
Character – a unit of information mapped to s specific code that corresponds to a glyph or symbol
Descender – portion of a letter that falls below the baseline (e.g., g, j, p, q, y)
Font – a member of a specific typeface family
Glyph – any individual character, punctuation, or symbol in a font; a particular physical appearance of a character
Kerning – the addition or subtraction of space between two characters
Leading – distance from the baseline of one line of type to the baseline of the line of type before it; space inserted between two lines of type
Ligature – two or more letters combined to form one character (e.g. fi, fl)
PostScript – language used by computers to create printed versions of electronically composed pages
Sans serif – category of type that does not incorporate serifs
Serif – line that crosses the end of a main character stroke
Stroke – main portion of a character
Typeface – a collection or family of characters, numbers, and symbols that share common design elements
Weight – measurement of the thickness of a stroke (e.g., extra light, light, medium, heavy)