THE NON-DESIGNER'S TYPE BOOK
Anatomy of type
Before we begin, let's look at a few characters up close so when you read
specific typographic terms throughout the rest of the book, you'll know
what I'm talking about.
cap height: ascenders: strokes
height of the that rise above
capital letters the x-height
ascender height, or ascent line (not
always the same as the cap height-
ascenders are often taller than caps)
ascenders: strokes ascender height, or ascent line (.not
e that rise above always the same as the cap height—
rs the x-height ascenders are often taller than caps)
»inter ^^Ê ^р ^^
thick/thin: the stress: the angle _/_________ ------baseline:
contrast in the through the •descenders: invisible!
thickness of the thinnest parts strokes that dip uponwhi
curved strokes of the curves below the baseline type sits
descenders: invisible line
strokes that dip upon which
below the baseline type sits
stroke: the main
line of a character
n terminai: ena 01 а
r stroke without а
— — serif
stroke, as in A,
Serif type has "serifs, "
as circled above. "Sans"
is French for "without, "
so "sans serif" type has
za ff gg ho
аа if дд h h
Notice how the serif letter a changes from
a "two-story" a into a "one-story" О when it
is italic, but the sans serif does not. That is
typical of how the design of most serifs and
sans serifs change when italic (but not all).
body copy: text in sizes from about
8- to i2-point, set in paragraphs, as
shown here (this is io-point type).
display type: text in sizes above 14
point, as in headlines or advertising
titles. Shown above is 90-point
Roman means the type does not
slant. This type is roman.
Italic type, which does slant, has been
completely redesigned, as you can
see by the comparisons (to the left)
of the roman and italic versions of
the same typeface. Most serif faces
have true italic versions.
Oblique means the type is just
slanted; this is typical of most sans
serif "italic" faces (but not all).
The x-height of a typeface is the size of the body of the characters as epito¬
mized by the letter x, since x is the only letter that reaches out to all four
corners of the space. It is the x-height that creates the impression of the
font's size. You see, the point size of the type as you know it, let's say 24
point, originally referred to the size of the little piece of metal on which the
letter was created. Within that 24-point space, the designer could do any¬
thing he wanted—he could make tall ascenders, a large x-height, a small
x-height, short descenders. He didn't even have to take up the whole 24-
point space. So when we say a typeface is a certain point size, we are really
only getting an approximation of the actual number of points from the top
of the character's ascenders to the bottom of its descenders. And even if the
actual measurement from top to bottom is the same in several typefaces,
the x-height varies widely. Since most of what you see of a typeface is the
x-height, it is that which gives a face its visual impact.
Every one of the fonts shown below is set in 24-point type. You can see
how radically the x-height changes the impression, even though most
of the capital letters are relatively the same size. Be conscious of the
x-height in the fonts you use—you will make some typographic decisions,
such as linespacing, point size for body copy, and readability enhancement
based on the x-height of the typeface.
Typed Typed Typed Тѵ|МЧІ
Typed ¿^u Typed Typed
These are all 24-point type.