TYPOGRAPHY

In all stages of the historical development of the world, the written word and typography have been a fundamental ingredient in human culture. Only a few specialists are, however, familiar with their background and effect. Whereas the names of the inventors in the “classical disciplines”, such as painting, music and literature, are common knowledge, those of type designers and typographers of all historical periods are largely unknown; only a few appreciate the significance of their work. Yet the effects of text and typography on all spheres of  human activity are constantly present. They influence the fields of aesthetics and technology, of the arts and economics. Without them the rapid exchange of information we take for granted in our contemporary world would be inconceivable.

The written word is universally present and accepted. Its origins lie in pictures and symbols containing certain elements which recur time and time again. These repeated elements have at least one meaning or message attached to them. We are no longer able to prove for certain what they originally stood for. Yet we know that the connection between a symbol and the information it imparted is based on cultural consensus. Just as in this sense there are no pure pictures there are also no pure messages in the symbols; there is always something left over. The tension which arises between the information and the image is the essence of typography. Typography is to the written word that articulation is to the spoken word. Neither is conceivable without the other; together they make up what we perceive.

Typography Glossary


Ascender
That part of a lowercase letter that rises above the x-height, as in letters ‘b’, ‘d’, ‘f’, ‘h’, ‘k’, ‘t’ and ‘l’.
Baseline
The line on which letter forms rest. Round letters like “e” and “o” normally dent it, pointed letters like “v” and “w” normally pierce it, and letters with foot serifs like “h” and “l” usually rest precisely upon it.
Body copy
The main part of the text not including headings.
Body height
The complete area covered by all characters in a font.
Body width
The width of a character itself excluding its sidebearings.
Bowl
The generally rounded or curved parts of an uppercase or lowercase character such as B, C, O and g.
Bracket
The part of a character that joins a stem to a serif in an unbroken curve. Also a symbol used to enclose text.
Bullet point
A large dot which precedes a line of text to give emphasis.
Cap Height
The “Cap Height” is the measurement between the baseline of the character to the top of the uppercase letters in a font. This may or may not be the same as the height of ascenders. Cap height  is used in some systems to measure the type size.
Cap line
An imaginary line which runs across the top of capital letters. The distance from the cap line to the base line is the cap height.
Caption
The line or lines of text identifying a picture or illustration.
Cast off
A calculation determining how much space copy will take up when typeset.
Character width
The complete width of a character (letter) including its sidebearings.
Column
A vertical area in which type is set. Typically newspapers and magazines are set in columns.
Compose
To set copy into type.
Compositor
A person who sets type.
Condensed
A style of typeface in which the characters have a squashed appearance.
Copy
Typewritten manuscript, pictures and artwork to be used in the production of a printed job. Also known as hard copy.
Copyright
Copyright gives protection to the author/designer of material to prevent use without express permission or acknowledgement of the artist.
Counter
The area fully or partially enclosed by a letterform such as o, c and e.
Crossbar
The horizontal stroke of a character that connects vertical strokes or close to vertical strokes.
Cross stroke
The horizontal stroke crossing a vertical stroke of a character.
Cursive
A term used to describe a typeface which resembles written script.
Descender
That portion of a letter that falls below the baseline, as in ‘j’, ‘g’, ‘q’, ‘p’ and ‘y’.
dpi
An abbreviation for dots per inch.
Refers to the resolution at which a device, such as a monitor or printer, can display text and graphics.
Monitors are usually 100 dpi or less, and laser printers are usually 300 dpi or higher. An image printed on a laser printer looks sharper than the same image on a monitor.
Font
Traditionally, a complete set of  characters for one typeface at one particular type size. Often used more loosely as a synonym for “typeface”.
Justification
Slight adjustments made to the space bands within a line of type so that it fully extends to a particular line length.
Kerning
The adjustment of horizontal space between individual characters in a line of text. Adjustments in kerning are especially important in large display and headline text lines. Without kerning adjustments, many letter combinations can look awkward.
Letter spacing
Adjusting the average distance between letters in a block of text to fit more or less text into the given space or to improve legibility.
Kerning allows adjustments between individual letters; letter spacing is applied to a block of text as a whole.
Letter spacing is sometimes referred to as tracking or track kerning.
Line feed
Legibility is greatly affected by the amount of space between the lines – usually called "line feed" or "leading" after the strips of lead used by printers to space out lines of metal type. If there is not enough, the space between the lines can become less that that between the words, which can confuse the eye. Generous line feed can help to carry the eye along an otherwise uncomfortably long line.
Too much space between the lines can break up continuous text unintentionally – although it can be a useful device in large headlines.
Point Size
The common method of measuring type. The distance from the top of the highest ascender to the bottom of the lowest descender in points. In Europe, type is often measured by the cap-height in millimetres.
PostScript
PostScript is the worldwide printing and imaging standard.
The PostScript programming language was originally developed by Adobe
Systems to communicate complex graphic printing instructions to digital printers. It is now built into many laser printers for high-quality rendering of both raster and vector graphics.
Sans-Serif Type
A type face that does not have serifs.
Sans-Serif faces lend a clean, simple  appearance to documents  (ie Helvetica, Futura).
Serif Type
Small decorative strokes that are added to the end of a letter’s main strokes. Serifs improve readability by leading the eye along the line of type (ie Times, Bodoni).
TrueType
A scalable type technology built into Windows and Apple Systems.
Widows and orphans
Widows and orphans are terms used for single lines coming at the bottom or, worse still, at the top of a page. An orphan is the first line of a paragraph that comes at the foot of a page. Widows are the last lines of paragraphs that appear at the top of a page. In general, widows look worse than orphans and should be avoided.
X Height
Height of lower case letters without their ascenders or descenders, which is height of the letter "x".
This is an excellent link for more information on typography

 

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