NHS Designs
Graphic Design Typography

Anatomy

Typography is a subtle craft, in which the smallest mistake can appear as a glaring error even to the untrained eye. Unlike the spoken word, which quickly passes and is forgotten, printed type has the potential to survive for hundreds of years.

The adoption of good habits and a healthy respect for type characters and fonts is a good starting point for anyone wishing to practice graphic design.

In order to discuss typography, it helps to understand the anatomy of letter forms.

Parts of the Line of Type

parts of a line of type
Click on the image for a larger version.

 

Basics

  • 2 The base line is the imaginary line on which all characters rest. Descenders hang below the base line.
  • 9 The mean line is the imaginary line which determines the height of lowercase letters. Ascenders rise above the mean line.
  • 7 The x-height is the distance between the flat top and bottom of a lower case letter which has no ascender or descender, such as x. It is the distance between the base line and the mean line. The curved tops and bottoms of the p, o, and g extend beyond these lines so that they appear visually to fit the x-height.

 

Ascenders

  • 1 The ascender is the stroke of a letter which rises above the mean line, as in the letters d, f and k.
  • 1 The ascender line is the imaginary line which determines the height of ascenders.
  • 3 The ascender height is the x-height plus the height of the ascending stroke. It the distance between the base line and the ascender line.

 

Descenders

  • 5 The descender is the stroke of a letter which dips below the base line, as in the letters g and j.
  • 10 The descender line is the imaginary line which defines the bottom reach of descenders.

 

Capital Letters

  • 8 The cap line is the imaginary line which determines the height of capital letters.
  • 4 The cap height is the height of capital letters. It is the distance bewteen the base line and the cap line.

 

Take Quiz 4: Typography 1, Part I

Source: Graphic Design Foundation Course by Curtis Tappenden, Luke Jefford and Stells Farris


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