Anatomy of Typeface: 13 Basic Terms Every Marketer Should Know

Almost everything we touch or see is impacted by typography. Just try to imagine your favorite newspapers or your next brochure without text. Basically, typography is the art and technique of arranging characters (letters) in a way that enables learning and recognition. But that is just one way of looking at things. Your choice of typeface does not just improve legibility and communicates the message but it also gives the entire composition certain character and style. It works together with color and layout to create balanced design that has a strong impact on its audience. Since many marketers feel intimidated by typography, or they don’t know much about it we decided to share basic anatomy of a typeface and explain some of the most frequent terms you should become acquainted with.

- CAP HEIGHT, also called the Type Size, is the overall height of capital letter in the formation of words, while the X HEIGHT is the height of lowercase letters, excluding ascenders or descenders (explained below).
- BASELINE, as the lowest point of all capital letters and most lowercase letters, is the invisible line that the text sits on.
- ASCENDER is the vertical steam that extends above the x-height in lowercase letters like d, b, f, k, or h, and DESCENDER is the part of the letter that extends below the baseline in lowercase letters like q, p, g, y or j. Ascenders and Descenders create gaps and spaces that you can fill with small text and enhance your design.
- SERIFS are small finishing strokes on tails, steam and arms of characters that are specific for serif fonts such as Georgia, Richmond and Times New Roman, while TERMINAL is end (straight or curved) of any stroke that doesn’t include a serif.
- STEM is the main and usually vertical stroke in a letter.
- BOWL is the closed, round or oval curve in letters d, b, or o, while LOOP, often seen in double-storey g, is the enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline that is connected to the bowl by a link.
- EAR, typically found on the lowercase g, is a decorative flourish usually on the upper right side of the bowl and TAIL is descending and decorative stroke on letters q, g, j, or p.
- KERNING is the adjustment of spacing between characters in a word, important for appearance and readability of word or line of text.


Understanding the typography basics will help you choose and apply fonts more effectively in your design so save or print this glossary of terms and keep on reading Content Creator blog to learn more about typography terms and concepts