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J525 Handout

Typographic vocabulary
Nomenclature of type size. 10-point type in a face with a large x-height
will appear bigger than 12-point in a typeface
Stroke. The straight and curved lines that cre-
with a small x-height.
ate a letter form. The basic building block of a
character of type, corresponding to movements Em and en, also called “molly” and “nut.”
of the pen in hand writing. Spaces and dashes that respectively equal the
Bowl. Circular or semi-circular strokes enclos- full point size and half the point size. An em
ing a space in such letters as o, b, d, p. space or dash in 12-point type is 12 points
wide. An en space or dash in 12-point type is 6
Counter. Space inside the bowl.
points wide.
Ascender. Portion of a letter that rises above
Leading. (Pronounced ledding.) Total space
the mean line; tops of the letters b, d, f, h, k, t.
from the top of a line of type to the top of the
Descender. Portion of a letter that extends next line below it.
below the baseline; bottoms of g, j, p, q and y.
NOTE. When InDesign asks for leading, add
Serif. Small finishing stroke perpendicular to a the point size to line spacing, and enter the

letter’s main stroke. This M has four serifs. total. If, for example, you have 12-point type
Swash. The flourish that ends and want 9 points extra spacing between
letters or characters in certain lines, enter 21 points. Type size and leading are
typefaces. For example, exagger- expressed as a fraction. Thus, 12/21 means 12-
ated extensions of the descender point type on 21-point leading.
of y or the endings of K, Q, R.
Measure. The width of a line of type. Measure
is expressed in picas.
Measurement vocabulary Pica. One of two basic typographical measure-
Baseline. Line on which the letters sit.
ments. 6 picas = 1 inch.
Meanline. Line defining the tops of lower case
Point. The second basic measurement. 12
letters without ascenders, such as x, a, o.
points = 1 pica. 72 points = 1 inch. Type size and
X-height. The height of lowercase letters leading are expressed in points, abbreviated pt.
without ascenders or descenders. That is, the
distance between the base line and mean line.
Other key vocabulary
Note. X-height is more important than point
Body type or text type. Refers to the for-
Uppercase Lower case Stroke Ascender

Typography X-height

Bowl Counter Serif Descender line
matting of the stories. Do not use a script, text, This is Helvetica oblique.
or decorative typeface for body type.
Reverse type. White type against a black, gray
Display type. Used for headlines.
or colored background.
Font. Often used incorrectly as a synonym for
Weight. Relative thickness or thinness of a
typeface. More precisely, all the characters (let-
typeface. Important for creating mood.
ters, numerals, punctuation, spaces) of a given
typeface at a single point size. Some type families offer a variety of weights:
Kern. To adjust letter spacing so part of a let- Gill Sans light
ter extends into the space of an adjacent letter. Gill Sans regular
kearned not kearned Gill Sans bold

Kerning is often necessary to achieve optical
Gill Sans extra bold
Many fonts, especially decorative fonts, come in
only one weight, which may be thin, like
spacing. Do this only in display type.
Edwardian Script
Optical spacing. The appearance of equal
space between letters, as opposed to mechani- or heavy, like
cal spacing, which is true equal space. Optical Braggadocio
spacing is desirable in display type.
Widow. A short line of type at the bottom of
Legibility. The quality of a typeface that makes a column. Undesirable in quality design.
its letters recognizable. Factors affecting leg-
Orphan. A short line of type at the top of a
ibility include type design; type size; x-height;
column. Undesirable in quality design.
measure; spacing between letters, words and
lines; and contrast of thick and thin strokes. Type density. The overall gray tone of a page
of type. Factors affecting density are weight, and
Readability. The quality of a typeface that
spacing between letters, words, lines.
makes it comfortable to read for a sustained
period. A typeface may be legible but not read- Upper case. Capital letters.
able. Such a face might work well for headlines Lower case. Non-capital letters.
but not for body type. U&lc. Upper and lower case letters.
Roman. A family of type with serifs and thick Wrap. The arrangement, or flow, of a story’s
and thin strokes. Sans-serifs cannot be Roman. body type on a page; generally in columns.
Palatino is a Roman face. InDesign calls this a story thread.
Italic. A Roman typeface which slants to the
right. All Italic type slants, but not all typefaces Alignments
that slant are Italic. Left. Lines of type aligned at the left of the
This is Palatino’s italic version. measure and unaligned, or ragged, at the right.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel
Sans-serif. A typeface without serifs.
Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant after-
Helvetica is a sans-serif face. noon when his father took him to discover ice.
Oblique. A non-Italic type which slants. Right. Lines of type aligned at the right of the
measure and unaligned at the left.
This is reverse type. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel
Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant
afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
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© Claude Cookman, 2005
Centered. Lines of type centered on the mea-
Europe, writing with reed pens.
sure and unaligned at both sides.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel LUCIDA BLACKLETTER
Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant
afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
e. decorative faces, as a group are designed
Justified. Lines of type spaced out to align at for a wide range of functions, but individually
both the left and right edges of the measure. limited because of their distinctiveness.
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel
Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant after- Jokerman is a decorative
noon when his father took him to discover ice.
2. Serifs. Most type divides into serif or sans
Force justified. Justified type with the last line serif, but there are extensive differences among
of the paragraph, no matter how short, spaced the kinds of serifs.
out to align on the right. Unacceptable in qual- 3. Proportion: Relationship of the sizes and
ity typographic design because it creates bad shapes of individual letters. Old Style type
word spacing.

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel
Aureliano Buendia was to remember that distant
afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Alignment standards. Use only justified or faces, below left, are based on the geometrical
left alignments for body text. Use centered and proportions of circles and squares. Modern
right only on type elements with a few words typefaces, below right, are based on ovals and
such as captions, decks, quotes. rectangles, which creates more even widths.
4. Contrast: Variation in the strokes between
Choosing typefaces thick and thin widths.
There are more than 20,000 typefaces. Many
are utilitarian work horses; others are expres-
sive. In designing your publications, choose a
typeface that enhances the mood you are try-
ing to create. Here are details to look for:
1. Categories. One classification system that Times has contrast.
should help you see and organize typefaces
divides them into five categories: Gill Sans is uniform.
a. serif, based on Roman letters carved in stone. 5.Variations among details. Watch, for ex-
Caslon is a serif face ample, for differences in the descenders of the
letter g and the tips of the letter r.

b. sans serif, popularized in Switzerland be-
tween the two world wars. ggg
Geneva is sans serif 6. Figure-ground: In addition to the strokes

c. script, based on handwriting, especially cal- (the figure), look also at the spaces
ligraphy with a quill pen. they create within and around the
letters (the ground). Most people
Isadora is a script never consciously notice the ground,
d. text, based on medieval monks in northern but it does register subliminally.
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Typographic standards respectively—with at least one full line of type
above or below them.
The standards for quality type setting are much
higher than typewriter conventions. We will 11. Do not align tabular material with the space
discuss them and show you how to achieve bar. Create tab settings.
them. For more on quality typesetting see 12. Use the spell checker, but also proofread.
Robin Williams’ The Mac is not a Typewriter. Beware the wrong homophone: their for there,
1. Use real quotation marks, not typewriter lynx for links, its for it’s, flour for flower.
marks: “ and ” not “, th e inch symbol. 13. Do not use bold weight, italic or oblique
2. Use real apostrophes: ’ not ‘, the prime angles, all caps, decorative fonts or reverse type
symbol. for body type. They all reduce readability.
3. Use en – and em — dashes where appropri- 14. Pay careful attention to the relationship
ate, not single or double hyphens, - or -- between measure and point size. Small type set
on a wide measure or large type set on a nar-
4. Use italic, not underline, for emphasis, for
row measure reduce readability.
book titles, and for foreign words.
15. The computer lets you expand and con-
dense type easily by kerning and tracking. Use
Simplicity Simplicity this function with restraint, because it can
5. If you must use an underline, draw it with the destroy the carefully designed proportions of
line tool instead of using the style menu, so it a typeface’s letter forms. This will compromise
does not cut through descenders. the unity of your typographic design.
6. Use italic and bold sparingly in body text.
They disrupt the type density of the page. Typographic guidelines
7. Set no more than a few words in reverse Clarity. When selecting type variables, com-
type. For legibility, chose a sans serif face with munication should take precedence over
a thick, even stroke. Make the size 14 points or expressive or artistic concerns. Legibility and
larger and use the bold weight. readability are the primary considerations.
8. If you set body text on a background make Simplicity. Use a limited number of typefaces
the tone light (10–15% gray), and enlarge the in a consistent way to establish a style easily
size so the tone/ink does not fill the counters. recognized by the readers of your publication.
Unity and variety. In selecting type variables,
This is 10 point type on a 50% gray tone. try to achieve unity and variety. Unity can usu-
ally be achieved by limiting your design to two
typefaces; you might add a third for the name-
This is 14 point type on a 10% tone. plate. Variety can be created by changing the
size, weight and angle within these two type-
faces instead of selecting several typefaces.
9. Use soft returns to break a line without
starting a new paragraph. For a soft return in Appropriateness. Pick typefaces appropriate
InDesign, hold down the Shift key and tap the to the contents of the story, to the audience,
Return key. and to the publication and its objectives. Typog-
raphy is a major means that publications use to
10. Protect widow and orphan lines—short
create their visual personalities.
lines at the bottom or top of a column,

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