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14 Typography Terms You Should Know

Comments Off on 14 Typography Terms You Should Know 05 July 2010

typography is seen anywhere

typography is seen anywhere

In the world of mass produced designs, typography is usually considered later in the design stage because uninformed customers prefer designs that pack a punch visually rather than convey the true message of their business. But as more and more information is conveyed in print, we have a need to understand typography whether or not we are in charge of the design. The more you know, the more detail you will be able to discuss with your designer/printer, helping relationships and providing higher quality work.

Roman: This form is used most commonly. It is basically the regular form of the typeface.

Italic: When the italic form is applied to the font, the font usually slants to the right. Usually used in quotes.

Bold: Bold is pretty self explanatory. It is a thicker, heavier form of the font. Great for emphasis on words or sentences.

Light: The opposite of bold, when the light font is applied, each character becomes thinner. Although on most word processing programs include the ability to bold, italicize and underline text, but light is usually used for graphic art applications.

Typeface: A typeface is a group of characters that includes letters, numbers, glyphs and punctuation. They will all have the same style.

Type Families: A type family consists of the variations on the typeface. Most type families include at least a roman, italic, and bold.

Serif Fonts: Serif fonts have little lines at the ends of each character. For example, Times New Roman or Times are a great example of serif fonts. Serif fonts are said to help with legibility because the little lines help guide the eye to the next character. Serif fonts also look ‘serious’ and may work well with your prints depending on the message you want to convey.

Sans-serif Fonts: Sans-serif fonts are fonts without the ‘serifs.’ The most famous font in the sans-serif font family is Helvetica, which is used all over the world in a variety of applications. Sans-serif fonts are also said to make reading on monitors easier, thus a lot of websites are based on sans-serif fonts. With monitor technology increasing at a rapid rate, the problems of poor screen resolution will no longer be a problem in the near future.

Tracking: Tracking is the spacing between each character of font. The spacing can be made smaller or a lot larger depending on space requirements and impact.

Kerning: Kerning is the spacing between specific letters. (Not all letters as in tracking) For example, the letters “f” and “t” often look closer together than the rest of the letters in a word, so when the auto kerning on the computer does look as you’d like, graphic designers can manually change the spacing. (This is not usually needed because the auto kerning feature on modern computers are optimal)

Leading: The leading is the space between lines of text or sentences, and is usually called line-spacing. (Double spacing, single spacing, etc)

Baseline: The baseline can be thought of as a bench the font sits on. Long legged fonts such as g’s, p’s, and q’s hang their legs off the bench seat. This ‘baseline’ can be adjusted higher or lower depending on the effect you want.

Mean Line: The baseline is where the font sit, but the mean line is the top of a lower case letter. For example, the upper most portion of ‘e’ or ‘o’ is the mean line.

X-height: The x-height is slightly different than the mean line in that it is the height between the baseline and the mean line; the height of a lowercase x.
With knowledge of these terms, discussions with your graphic designer and printer will go much smoother as well as being able to convey your ideas succinctly. Keep this page bookmarked for when you’ll need to get your typography ideas across!

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