Typography rules and terms every designer must know

Manicule

Also known as the bishop's fist (stop sniggering at the back), the pointing hand symbol is a popular dingbat.

Monospace

The characters in the monospaced font are all the same width

Fonts in which every letterform occupies the same horizontal space.

OpenType

Designed by Microsoft and Adobe, OpenType supplanted and improved upon TrueType and PostScript fonts.

Oblique or sloped roman

To be distinguished from italics, in which the letterforms are purposefully drawn to be different to their upright cousins. Oblique letters are merely slanted versions of the standard roman form, often arrived at by mechanical means.

Orphan

The first line of a new paragraph stranded at the bottom of a page. This is considered to be as bad as the name suggests.

Pica

One sixth of an inch in length, the pica is associated with line-length and column width. There are 12 points or 16 pixels in one pica.

Pilcrow

The paragraph symbol, it now marks the presence of a carriage return but at one time is thought to have denoted a change of theme in flowing text.

Point

A standard typographical measurement equal to 1/12 of a pica or 1/72 of an inch.

Readability

Readability refers to the ease with which a block of text can be scanned by eye.

Serif

A flare or terminating flourish at the end of a letterform's strokes believed to originate with the Roman tendency to paint letters onto marble before chiselling them out.

Sidebearing

The horizontal space to either side of a letterform, separating it from other letters.

Spine

The main curved stroke of a lowercase or capital S.

Squoosh

What is typography

Squoosh is the process of squashing or expanding a typeface digitally

This is the inadvisable process of squashing or expanding a typeface digitally either to fit a space or for visual effect. If you do it, make sure you keep it to yourself.

Spur

A small projection from the curve of a letterform, sometimes known as a beak or a beard. G provides a good example.

Stem

A vertical, full-length stroke in upright characters.

TDC

The Type Directors Club is a typography organisation based in New York.

Tittle

What is typography

Tittle is the name for the dot above the i or j

The brilliantly suggestive name for the dot above letters 'i' and 'j'.

Terminal

A type of curve at the end of a stroke. Examples include the teardrop shapes in: 'finial', 'ball', 'beak' and 'lachrymal'.

x-height

The height of the lowercase x in any given typeface. This delimits the size of the glyph's detail and therefore also of its ascenders and descenders.

This is a revised and updated version of an article published previously on Creative Bloq.

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