Vintage Collection


George M Fox Children’s Book Collection at San Francisco Public Library


Type Terminology

Accent Marks:  Examples Acute, Asciltilde, Breve, Caron, Cedilia, Circumflex, Dieresls, Dotaccent, Grave, Hungarumlaut, Macron, Ogonek, Ring, Tilde

Ascender Height: Officially the distance from the top of the lowercase x to the top of lowercase letters with ascenders like f,d or k.

Baseline: Seems pretty obvious-it’s the line on which letters stand.

Dipthong: Ligature formed by two vowels coming together to form one character

Ear: Little boxes of type on either side of a newspaper or magazine title. Often contain the weather or inside previews.

Face: Surface of a letter that gets inked.

Folio: The page number in a document. The blind folio is a page with no number. Drop folio is when the numbers appears at the bottom of the page.

Hairline: The smallest available rule in any system. Technically 1/2 point.

Inline: Starts at the edge of a letter and goes in.

Outline: Starts at the same edge and goes out from the letter.

Online: Half in Half out.

Flush left same as ragged right.

Flush right ragged left.

Flush left and right will get you justified columns.

Kerning: Adjusting of space between letters (particularly those that don’t fit together well) to make for better looking words. But that’s a little like saying you band on piano keys to make music.
Its an art that you are either born with or you master after years of painstaking practice.

Ligature: When two letters are combined to form one, like in fi or fl. But did you know that all type that is connected such as most scripts is said to be ligated.

Metrics: All of the information about how a font fits together, like kerning information and character widths.

Oblique: Roman type that has been artificially slanted to look italic.

Parts of letter:

Apex: The point where two diagonal strokes meet as in the top of the uppercase A or M

Arm: Horizontal strokes on letters like T or E

Bar: The cross horizontal piece connecting two strokes.

Beak: A serif at the end of a horizontal stroke.

Bowl: Round parts of letters like P, B and the upper part of g.

Counter: The enclosed part of a letter such as the P or p

Ear: The little part that sticks out to the right of the lowercase g.

Eye: The enclosed part of the lowercase.

Link: The connecting line of a lowercase g between the loop and the upper bowl.

Loop: The lower part of the g, also call the tail.

Serif: The fine line finishing off the end of the stroke.

Spur: The little stick out part of some letters like G or t.

Stress: The implied angle between the thinnest parts of curved letter. Point of maximum stress is the thickest part of the curved letters like O or D

Tail: A stroke extending below the baseline, like the lowercase j or uppercase Q. Sometimes called leg.

Vertex: Where two downward diagonal strokes cross, as in an M or W.

Pillcrow: Paragraph symbol.

Pixel: Smallest point displayed on a computer screen.

Sans Serif: Without sans. Type of this sort called grotesque or gothic.

x-height: The height of the lowercase x. Referred as mean line.

Typeface for text

What’s the right typeface for text? How to choose a typeface for clear,easy reading over long distances.

Text type is more common than any other. Text makes up the acres of gray in books, magazines, repots and hundreds of other documents. When reading is the primary goal, its the designer’s job to ensure that the text is smooth, flowing and pleasant to read. The hallmarks of good text type are legibility and readability.

Legibility refers to clarity, its how readily one letter can be distinguished from all others.
Readability refers to how well letters interact to compose words, sentences and paragraphs.
When evaluating the choices, the operative word is medium.

1. Pick a typeface with similar character widths:
    For smoother appearance, an alphabet’s characters should have similar widths. Reading has a natural rhythm; an alphabet such as Futura with widely varying character widths disrupts it.

2. Medium height-to-width ratio:
    We identify letters by their physical characteristics-stems, bars, loops, curves and so on; the clearer they are the more legible the letter. As letters are compressed, these features get distorted-diagonal strokes, for example, become quite vertical-and so are harder to identify.

3. Medium x-height:
    The x-height of a typestyle is the height of its lowercase characters. The larger the x-height, the denser the type will appear. You want medium; unusually tall or short x-heights are better suited for specialty projects.

4. Look for small variations in stroke weight:
    The best text faces have stroke weights that vary somewhat, which make converging lines that help the eye flow smoothly. But avoid extremes. Modern styles vary too much, at high resolution their beautiful, super thin strokes disappear in a dazzle. Sleek geometric styles vary little or not at all, so are too uniform.

5. Watch out for mirrors:
     Geometric typestyles are so uniform that their letters are often mirror images. For text, this is not idea- the more distinct each letter is, the more legible whole words will be. Look for typestyles that don’t mirror.

6. Avoid overlarge counters:
    Counters are the enclosed spaces inside letters. Avoid typestyles whose counters are very large in relation to the stroke weight. In the case of Avant Garde, note how much greater the space inside the letters is than the space outside!

7. Avoid quirkiness:
    Typographic sprites are fun to look at and great for heads, but in text they wear out their welcome fast.