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Basic Typography Terms Every Designer Should Know
By Kylie Woon, 25 Aug 2017
Being comfortable with basic typography jargon is the first step to being less of an amateur and more of a professional.
No designer wants to be put in an awkward position where basic typography jargon alludes them—especially not with a client or fellow designer watching.
Do you feel well-versed in these basic typography terms? Refresh your memory—or discover a few common terms—in this list compiled by Design Shack.
We have highlighted some must-know terms below, and check out the entire list here.
This one is fairly self-explanatory. ‘Readability’ refers to the ease at which something can be read, and can be achieved through background contrast, spacing, size, white space, and of course—clear writing.
X Height and Cap Height
The measure of a the lowercase ‘x’ of any typeface. The X height determines the size of ascenders and descenders and also helps set the tone of that typeface. Similarly, ‘cap height’ refers to the height of capital letters. The cap height determines point size.
This refers to a typography unit of measurement used to give values to font size and other elements of typography.
The imaginary ‘bottom line’ that a typeface sits on. Nothing falls below it but descenders, and it helps designers determine spacing and distance.
Ascender and Descender
Parts of the letterform that stick out or fall below the X height.
Kerning and Tracking
These two are often confused, as they both have to do with spacing. Kerning refers to the space a pair of letters, and tracking refers to the space between all letters in one group—like a sentence or paragraph.
Serif and Sans Serif
Serifs are letters with additional lines, strokes and caps on them, whereas sans serifs—as its name would suggest— do not have these extra frills.
Widows and Orphans
Generally considered to be unwanted eyesores, orphans and widows refer to outlying words that stick out at the beginning, or end, of a block of text. They are generally thought to reduce readability and are not visually pleasing.
As the name suggests, a family is a a group of type in all its variations—bold, italicized, lowercase, uppercase, and so on.
Read on and discover more basic typography terms here.
[via Design Shack, opening image via Jazmin Quaynor on Unsplash]
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