Welcome to Type Terms! The animated typographic cheat sheet. If you are new to typography or here to refresh your memory, then Type Terms is the perfect tool for you. Click the big blue button below and let's begin.

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LEARN TYPOGRAPHIC TERMINOLOGY WITH TYPE TERMS

Type Terms is the perfect tool for designers to learn the basics of typographic terminology. If you are new to typography or here to refresh your memory, then Type Terms is perfect for you.

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STEM

A Stem is the main stroke of a letterform, which can also be known as a Stroke.

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SERIF

A Stroke attached to or extending from the open ends of a letterform is known as the Serif. Serif also refers to the general category of typefaces that have been designed with this feature. Typefaces without a serif are known as Sans-Serif typefaces. “Serif” comes from the Dutch word "schreef" meaning "line".

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SANS-SERIF

A Sans-Serif generally refers to a category of typefaces that have been designed without a Serif and contain no embellishments. The term comes from the French word “Sans”, which means "without".

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BAR

The Bar of a letterform is the horizontal stroke that goes across the middle of an uppercase A or H and the stroke that goes under the Eye of a lowercase 'e'. The bar can also be known as a crossbar.

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EYE

The Eye, much like a Counter, refers specifically to the enclosed space in a lowercase ‘e’.

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FOOT

The Foot of a letterform usually appears on most Serif typefaces and is the part of the Stem that rests on the Baseline.

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TERMINAL

A Terminal is the end of any Stroke that doesn’t include a Serif, but instead includes ball terminals and finials (curved or tapered in shape).

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APERTURE

Aperture is similar to a Counter but has an opening instead of being fully enclosed. The letters ‘n’, ‘c’, ‘s’ and ‘e’ all have an aperture.

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KERNING

Kerning, not to be confused with Tracking, is the horizontal spacing between two consecutive letters which you can manually adjust to add negative space or to take it away.

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TRACKING

Tracking, otherwise known as letter-spacing, is similar to Kerning but affects the spacing between characters in a complete section of text instead of between only two consecutive characters.

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TITTLE

The Tittle, otherwise known as a “dot”, is a small distinguishing mark, such as an diacritic on a lowercase ‘i’ or ‘j’.

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SHOULDER

The Shoulder of a letterform is the curved stroke extending down from a Stem. Lowercase letters such as ‘m’, ‘n’ and ‘h’ all have a Shoulder.

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COUNTER

Counters are found in letters that have enclosed or partially enclosed areas of white space. Letters such as ‘a’, ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘e’, ‘g’, ‘o’, ‘p’ and ‘q’. The letter ‘e’ has its own special name for its counter; the Eye.

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ASCENDER

Lowercase letters such as ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘h’, ‘k’, and ‘l’ are all Ascenders. This is because the main body of the letters extend above the X-Height. Uppercase letters are not Ascenders.

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BOWL

The curved part of the character that encloses a Counter of letters such as ‘d’, ‘b’, ‘o’, ‘g’, and a is known as the Bowl of the letterform. The curved strokes of a ‘c’ are sometimes also referred to as bowls although they aren’t closed.

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DESCENDER

Descenders are the opposite of Ascenders. Ascenders go above the X-Height while Descenders go below the Baseline. Lowercase letters such as ‘g’, ‘j’, ‘p’, ‘q’ and ‘y’ all have descenders. Normally uppercase letters don't go below the Baseline, however you may find some typefaces that do.

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EAR

Typically found on a lower case ‘g’, an Ear is a decorative flourish that usually appears on the upper right side of the Bowl.

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TAIL

A Tail is often a decorative Stroke on the letter ‘Q’, ‘K’ or ‘R’. The Descender on ‘g’, ‘j’, ‘p’, ‘q’, and ‘y’ are also known as Tails.

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STROKE

A Stroke is similar to a Stem, the only different is that a stroke is known as the main diagonal part of a letterform such as in ‘N’, ‘M’ and ‘Y’. Some letterforms with two diagonals, such as ‘A’ or ‘V’, have both a stem and a stroke. The near-vertical Stroke is known as the stem in this instance and the other diagonal line is known as the main Stroke. Other letter parts such as Bars, Arms, and Bowls are collectively referred to as the Strokes that make up a letterform.

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ARM

An Arm is a horizontal Stroke that does not connect to anything else on one or both ends.

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CAP-HEIGHT

Sometimes referred to as the Cap Line, the Cap-Height is the invisible line that marks the upper boundary of capital letters and some lowercase letters with Ascenders.

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X-HEIGHT

The X-Height is the height of a typeface’s lowercase letters (disregarding ascenders and descenders) that rest on the Baseline.

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BASELINE

The Baseline is the imaginary line on which most letters and other characters sit. Descenders usually rest on the Baseline, but part of the letterform sits below the imaginary line.

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LEADING

Leading, also known as line-spacing, is the vertical spacing between lines of text and is measured from Baseline to Baseline.

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