Basic Typography You Need to Know

By Yumnatype on 25th March 2022

Basic Typography You Need to Know —Although we tend to think of typography as a relatively modern invention, the practice of printing symbols or images onto surfaces has been around for thousands of years. Humans consciously created the first written text forms and letters about 5,000 years ago. Since then, letters have become important means of communication that has developed for years along with the development of science and technology.

You can call any letter or symbol as typography. Typography is an important element, whether in communication or graphic designs. It can mean the arrangement and pattern of pages, or all printed staffs. The more specific definition is selection, arrangement and other things related to stack lines of letters excluding illustrations and other factors of non-letters on the printed page.

Nowadays, along with its development, typography developed in digital form and has many terms. If you are considering becomes professional font designer, you have to know the typography terms.

Join us while we take a closer look at the typography terms!



  • Typography
    A typography is one of graphic design terms which does not stand alone and is related to other fields of science. In simpler words, a typography is a specific letter design, such as Times New Roman.
  • Font
    In the traditional typography especially in metal print, a font is a group of characterized metal which represents complete characters from a certain design (all characters, numbers, signs, symbols, etc.). Today’s fonts refer to a group of complete characters from a certain type of design or letter in a digital form.
  • Character
    An individual symbol from a group of complete characters forming typography can be in the forms of letters, numbers, punctuation, etc.
  • Glyph
    A non-standard variation (sometimes decorative) comes from the existing characters as additional options in the font file.



  • Italic
    It is a tilt version of a letter type.
  • Serif
    Serif is a short line or a lengthwise sticky scratch at the edge of an open area of a letter.
  • Sans Serif / Sans
    It literally means ‘without line’. You can also see some sample here.
  • Baseline
    It is an imaginary border line between letters and other characters.
  • Cap Line

It is an imaginary line that marks the top border of capital letters and some lowercases (ascender).

  • X-Height
    The height of a lowercase is usually based on the lowercase ‘x’, excluding ascenders and descenders.
  • Kerning
    It means a horizontal distance of two characters in a row adjusting the kerning to create an equal display.
  • Tracking / Letter Spacing
    It means the equal amount of distances between characters in a complete text.




  • Stroke
    It is a straight line or curve.
  • Leading / Line Spacing
    It means a vertical distance from the text row (from the back line to the back line).
  • Stem
    It is a straight vertical line or a straight diagonal line.
  • Arc of Stem
    It is a curve stroke which continues to Stem.
  • Descender
    It means a part of a character (g, j, p, q, y, J) which declines on the base line.
  • Ascender
    It means part of lowercase characters (b, d, f, h, k, l, t) which lengthwises on top of the lowercase x.
  • Foot
    It is part of the stem which is equal the base line.
  • Joint
    It is a point where the stroke meets the stem.
  • Apex
    It is a connecting point at the top position of a letter form where two strokes meet. It can be round, sharp, flat, etc.
  • Vertex
    It is a point below a character where two strokes meet.
  • Crotch
    It means the inner angle where two strokes meet.
  • Feet
    It is a short stroke and declining on a letter form.
  • Arm
    It is horizontal or diagonal at the top position which is tighten on one end but loose on the other end.
  • Shoulder
    It is a curve on letters h, m, or n.
  • Bar / Crossbar
    It is a horizontal line in characters such as A, H, R, e or f.
  • Cross Stroke
    It is a line that cuts past the stalk of a letter.
  • Bowl
    A curved stroke creates a closed area in character (later called the counter).
  • Counter
    It means some part or the whole part is covered in a character and bordered by curva, stroke or stem.
  • Aperture
    It is an open area or partly covered in negative space created by open counter.
  • Double-Story
    It is a type of a letter that has two counters.
  • Terminal
    It is the end of a stroke which is not ended with a serif.
  • Ligature
    Two or more connected letters form a certain character, especially decorative.
  • Swash
    It is a decorative ornament replacing terminal or serif.


Those are basics typography frequently used. You are allowed to mark this article as a typography dictionary and references to learn more about typography. Good luck!

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