I : The vocabulary of type
Some of the terms used in discussing type designs and typo¬
graphic practice are illogical, or have more than one meaning, or
mean different things in different places. They have come into
currency in the talk of master to worker, journeyman to appren¬
tice, through the five hundred years of the craft of printing — or
industry, as it now is. Most of the terms are serviceable enough,
so they continue in use even though the practice of making type
and using it is now chiefly a matter of electronic and computer
technology, optics and photographic chemistry, which have add¬
ed their own terms to the vocabulary of printing.
This book is determinedly non-technical; but because it is
meant to be of use to readers in a wide range of interests and with
different levels of experience, the definitions and explanations
that follow may be helpful.
Alignment or alinement relates directly to the baseline, q.v. Char¬
acters are 'out of alignment' when they do not appear to stand
properly on the line (letters with curves at the base, like a and e,
and the triangular letters v and w, actually extend a little below
the baseline). Faulty alignment was often seen in badly-set metal
type but is rare in modern digital typesetting. The baseline of
type faces and type sizes being fixed and common to all means
that they all align with each other - which is useful enough in
advertising typesetting, though the makers of the systems tend
to exaggerate the importance of the facility.
Ascenders. The lowercase letters b, d, h, к and 1 have stems that
extend up to the cap line or, preferably, a little above it. The part
of the stem above the x-line is the ascender. In j, p and q the part
of the stem below the baseline is the descender. The two features
are sometimes called extruders, but that is a misuse of the word.
Baseline or zee-line is the level of the feet of H and x.
Bowl. The curved part of the letters B, P, R, b, d, p and q, and the
lower section of a.
Cold type is type-set matter produced by a machine which out¬
puts the composition on to sensitised paper or film. If and when
mechanical (hot-metal) typesetting disappears altogether the
term cold type will no longer be necessary.
Colour. The term weight is used in a comparative sense. To refer
to the tone of a type in mass on a page the word colour is
Counters are the 'whites' within characters, particularly the en¬
closed areas: the 'eye' of e, the two interior spaces in B. But the
term is also used for the space between the uprights of H