Learning Type

Type Anatomy

The aperture is the partially enclosed, somewhat rounded negative space in some characters such as n, C, S, the lower part of e, or the upper part of a double-
story a.
A point at the top of a character where two strokes meet, specifically found on a capital letter A. The apex may be a sharp point, blunt, or rounded and is an identifying feature for some typefaces.
A horizontal or upward, sloping stroke that does not connect to a stroke or stem on one or both ends. The top of the capital T and the horizontal strokes of the F and E are examples of arms. Additionally, the diagonal upward stroke on a K is its arm.
An upward vertical stroke found on the part of lowercase letters, such as h and b, that extends above the x-height is the ascender.
Ascender Line
The invisible line marking the height of ascenders in a font.
Ball Terminal
A terminal that ends with a ball. Ball terminal is a combination of a dot (tail dot) or circular stroke and the curved bit (hook) at the end of some tails and the end of some arms (a, c, f).
The invisible line where all characters sit.
A beak is a type of decorative stroke at the end of the arm of a letter, connected to the arm by the terminal. It is similar to a spur or serif, but it is usually more pronounced.
The bowl is the fully closed, rounded part of a letter that encloses the circular or curved parts (counter) of some letters such as d, b, o, D, and B.
A bracket is a curved or wedge-like connection between the stem and serif of some fonts. Not all serifs are bracketed serifs. Modern and slab serif typefaces typically do not have bracketing.
Cap Height/Cap Line
In typography, cap height refers to the height of a capital letter above the baseline for a particular typeface. In some fonts, it may be the same as the ascender line.
The open space in a fully or partly closed area within a letter. In typography, the enclosed or partially enclosed circular or curved negative space (white space) of some letters such as d, o, and s is the counter.
The horizontal stroke in letters. Also referred to as bar. The (usually) horizontal stroke across the middle of uppercase A and H is a bar. The horizontal or sloping stroke enclosing the bottom of the eye of an e is also a bar.
The part of the letters that extends below the baseline. The portion of some lowercase letters, such as g and y, that extends or descends below the baseline is the descender.
Descender Line
The invisible line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.
A small distinguishing mark, such as an diacritic on a lowercase i or j.
A small stroke extending from the upper-right side of the bowl of lowercase g.
A tapered or curved end on letters such as the bottom of C or e or the top of a double-storey a.
A thin stroke usually common to serif typefaces. In typeface anatomy, a hairline is the thinnest stroke found in a specific typeface that consists of strokes of varying widths.
A curved, protruding stroke in a terminal. Usually found on a lowercase f, it appears curved or bent like a hook.
Short, descending portion of a letter. The lower, down sloping stroke of the letters R, K and k is called a leg.
Two or more letters combined into one character make a ligature. In typography some ligatures represent specific sounds or words such as the AE or æ diphthong ligature. Other ligatures are primarily to make type more attractive on the page such as the fl and fi ligatures. In most cases, a ligature is only available in extended characters sets or special expert sets of fonts.
A stroke that connects the top and bottom bowls of lowercase double-story g’s. It connects the bowl and loop of a double-story g.
The enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline of a double-story g. The loop is connected to the bowl by a link.
The smaller form of letters in a typeface. The little letters or non-capital letters of the alphabet are lowercase glyphs. They make up the bulk of written text, with uppercase or capital letters used primarily only to start sentences or proper names. It is also referred to as miniscules.
A stroke added as a stop to the beginning and end of the main strokes of a character. Serifs fall into various groups and can be generally described as hairline (hair), square (slab), or wedge and are either bracketed or unbracketed.
The curved stroke aiming downward from a stem. The curve at the beginning of a leg of a character, such as in an m, n,
and h.
Small Caps
Small caps are short capital letters designed to blend with lowercase text. They're usually slightly taller than lowercase letters.
The main curved stroke of a lowercase or capital S. The spine is the main left to right curving stroke in S and s. The spine may be almost vertical or mostly horizontal, depending on the typeface.
A small projection off a main stroke. Typically found on the capital G.
Vertical, full-length stroke in upright characters. The stem is the main, usually vertical stroke of a letterform.
An imaginary line drawn from top to bottom of a glyph bisecting the upper and lower strokes is the stress. It is also known as the axis.
A straight or curved diagonal line. The main diagonal portion of a letterform such as in N, M, or Y is the stroke. The stroke is secondary to the main stem(s). Some letterforms with two diagonals, such as A or V have a stem (the primary vertical or near-vertical stroke) and a stroke (the main diagonal).
A flourish addition replacing a terminal or serif. A swash is a typographical flourish on a glyph, like an exaggerated serif. Capital swash characters, which extended to the left, were historically often used to begin sentences.
A descending stroke, often decorative. In typography, the descending, often decorative stroke on the letter Q.
The end of a stroke that does not include a serif. In typography, the terminal is a type of curve.
A letter or group of letters of the size and form generally used to begin sentences and proper nouns. Also known as “capital letters” or majuscules.
A point (as of an angle, polygon, polyhedron, graph, or network) that terminates a line or curve or comprises the intersection of two or more lines or curves.
The height of lowercase letters reach based on height of lowercase x; does not include ascenders or descenders. In typography, x-height is the distance between the baseline of a line of type and tops of the main body of lower case letters (i.e. excluding ascenders or descenders). An x is used because it is the only letter with a flat top and bottom.