January 16, 2009

Parts of typeface

In typography, a typeface is a coordinated set of glyphs designed with stylistic unity. A typeface usually comprises an alphabet of letters, numerals, and punctuation marks; it may also include ideograms and symbols, or consist entirely of them, for example, mathematical or map-making symbols. Described here are the correct names with definition and example for the parts of type characters. One should always use them whenever referring to the parts.

STEM: The stem is the main, usually vertical stroke of a type character. It also known as "stroke". The vertical, non-curved portions of L, l, d, B, and p are examples of stems. H, N, and M have two stems each. Some letterforms such as y and A may have a sloped or diagonal stem.

CROSSBAR: The horizontal stroke across the middle of a type character is called crossbar. It also known as bar, arm and cross stroke. The cross bar connects the diagonal strokes of an uppercase A or the vertical stems of an H. In contrast, the cross stroke intersects the stem of a lowercase t or f while the arms of an uppercase F connect to the stem only at one end.

ARM: The arm of a letter is the horizontal stroke on some characters that does not connect to a stroke or stem at one or both ends. The top of the capital T and the horizontal strokes of the F and E are examples of arms. The arms of an uppercase F connect to the stem only at one end and the arm of an uppercase T sits at the top of the stem and doesn't connect at either end.

EXTENDER: An extender is that part of a letter that extends above the x-height or below the baseline. An ascender and a descender are extenders.

TAIL: The descending, often decorative stroke on the letter Q or the descending, often curved diagonal stroke on K or R is the tail.

BOWL: The curved part of the character that encloses the circular or curved parts of some letters such as d, b, o, D, and B is the bowl. Some sources call any parts of a letter enclosing a space a bowl, including both parts of a double-storey g and the straight stem on a D or B.

EYE: The eye refers specifically to the enclosed space in a lowercase e. It also known as counter.

EAR: Typically found on the lower case g, an ear is a decorative flourish usually on the upper right side of the bowl. Similar to a serif, the ear can be a distinctive, identifying element of some typefaces.

SPUR: Similar to but generally smaller than a serif or beak, a spur is a small bit at the end of certain curved portions of a character such as the end(s) of a C or S or the middle of G. It also known as barb, cat's ear.

BEAK: A beak is a type of decorative stroke at the end of the arm of a letter, connected to the arm by the terminal. Similar to a spur or serif, it is usually more pronounced.

Other parts of typefaces are shown below:


Ysabet said...

This is a wealth of information. I like diagrams that label the parts of things. I'm a writer - that stuff comes in handy. The last one I looked up, for a poem, was for body parts of a manta ray.

moulini said...

good effort for better understanding of typefeces. figures r very clear to understand


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