Glossary of fonts

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Ten on twelve by eighteen, which is to say, ten-point (10 pt) type set with 12 pt leading (2 pt extra lead, in addition to the body size of 10 pt , for a total of 12 pt from baseline to baseline) on a measure of 18 picas.

tangent point
A point in which the BCP handles are always “hardwired” into a line segment.

tau Τ τ
Nineteenth letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in the space for capital “T.”

Teardrop Terminal
A swelling, like a teardrop, at the end of the arm of letters such as a, c, f, g, j, r and y. This feature is typical of typefaces from the Late Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical periods, and is present on many recent faces built on Baroque or Neoclassical lines. Examples: Jannon, Van Dijk, Kis, Caslon, Fournier, Baskerville, Bell, Walbaum, Zapf International, Galliard. Also called lachrymal terminal. See also ball terminal and beak terminal.

Any sequence of graphic symbols.

text figures
Figures — 1 2 3 4 5 6 — designed to match the lowercase letters in size and color. Most text figures are and descending forms. Compare lining figures, ranging figures and titling figures.

The part of the page normally occupied by the text. Synonymous with typeblock.

A class of blackletter types.

theta Θ θ

Eighth letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in the space for capital “Q.” While there is no directly corresponding letter in English, it looks like an “O” horizontal bar through the middle.

thick space
A space measuring M/3, a third of an em.

thin space
In letterpress work, a space measuring M/5, a fifth of an em. In computer typesetting, sometimes understood as M/6.

One third em. Also written M/3.

titling figures
Figures - 1 2 3 4 5 - designed to match the uppercase letters in size and color.

A typeface designed in the 1930s for the Times newspaper in London and is now used widely in books, magazines and DTP. Its design is based on the typographical principles evolved since Roman times (upper case) and the 16th century (lower case). It is called a TRANSITIONAL typeface, after the typefaces of the 17th century which it resembles. Like all typefaces designed for typesetting large quantities of text, it is proportionally spaced: the i takes about a third the width of an M. Note: The Transitionals came after the Old Styles (like Garamond) and before the Moderns (like Bodoni).

title page
The first printed page of a book, oh which is given its full title, the name of the author, the publisher, place and date of publication.

titling figures
Figures — 1 2 3 4 5 6 — designed to match the uppercase letters in size and color. Compare text figures.


Whether written by hand or set into type, the Latin lower case alphabet implies an invisible staff consisting of at least four lines: topline, midline, baseline and beardline. The topline is the line reached by ascenders in letters like b, d, h, k, l. The midline marks the top of letters like a, c, e, m, x, and the top of the torso of letters like b, d, h. The baseline is the line on which all these letters rest. The beardline is the line reached by descenders in letters like p and q.

tabular figures
Numerals which all have the same width. This makes it easier to set tabular matter.

Letterspacing applied globally to a block of text.

Transitional Type
(Baskerville, Fournier) “Transitional” type is so-called because of its intermediate position between old style and modern. The distinguishing features of transitional typefaces include vertical stress and slightly higher contrast than old style typefaces, combined with horizontal serifs. The most influential examples are Philippe Grandjean’s “Romain du Roi” for the French Crown around 1702, Pierre Simon Fournier’s work circa 1750, and John Baskerville’s work from 1757 onwards. Although today we remember Baskerville primarily for his typeface designs, in his own time people were much more impressed by his printing, which used an innovative glossy paper and wide margins. Later transitional types begin to move towards “modern” designs. Contrast is accentuated, and serifs are more flattened. Current examples of such are based on originals from approximately 1788-1810, and are dominated by British isles designers, such as Richard Austin (Bell, 1788), William Martin (Bulmer) and Miller & Richard (ScotchRoman). For currently available examples of transitional type, there are many types which bear Baskerville’s name, descending from one or another of his designs. Less common today is P.S. Fournier’s work, although several versions of it are available in digital or metal form. Although Scotch Roman has been a very common face in metal type usage since Monotype’s 1920 revival, it is not a common digital face. Bell, on the other hand, is included in a Microsoft Font Pack, and Bulmer has received more attention since its revival by Monotype in late 1994.


A type of serif which flows directly into or out of the main stroke without stopping to reverse direction, typical of many italics. Transitive serifs are usually unilateral: they extend only to one side of the stem

A font format developed by Microsoft with Apple. The rendering engine for this font was built into Mac System 7 and MS Windows v3.1. Like PostScript Type 1 and Type 3 fonts, it is also an outline font format that allows both the screen and printers to scale fonts to display them in any size. Offers a cost-effective alternative to PostScript font technology. TrueType doesn’t require an add-on utility program (Adobe Type Manager) or an expensive, microprocessor-driven interpreter.

TrueType vs. Type 1

These two font types have become standard for computer users in the last decade. Generally, designers, publishers and anyone creating professional layouts for print will be outputting to a laser printer or other high resolution printer, and, if they know their industry, will purchase a good, commercial set of professional fonts, or a specific font for a particular project — these fonts are usually PostScript Type 1 fonts intended for that high resolution output. Professionally made fonts can be TrueType as well, but the distinction between users are ones who recognize professionally designed typestyles. Professionally made fonts are those with complete kerning pairs, closed paths and other characteristics — generally well planned typefaces. By the mid-1990s, cheaper computers and more software brought font creation tools down in price, and so the sheer number of fonts available from small type foundries and single experimenting (but untrained) individuals brought a glut of fonts to the world, most easily available for free download at thousands of web sites. Most of these incomplete fonts are TrueType fonts, either because the cheaper software tools only create these fonts, or users are more familiar with the TT format. The consequence of this endless circle is that many untrained individuals and designers find these free fonts (not understanding why they should pay, or why time would be required to create a font) and discovering numerous print errors. There are ill made Type 1 fonts too, of course, but fewer.

Capitals with curly serifs, “fish-tail” or bifucated serifs. A Victorian term for an ornate historical style.

Originally metal type, now a typeface design or some typeset text.

Type 1
Postscript Type 1 fonts (Also called ATM fonts, Type 1, and outline fonts) contain information, in outline form, that allows a PostScript printer, or ATM to generate fonts of any size. Most also contain hinting information which allows fonts to be rendered more readable at lower resolutions and small type sizes.

Type 3
Postscript type 3 fonts are an old outline font format that is not compatible with ATM. Most developers have stopped using this format except in a few special cases, where special type 3 characteristics (pattern fills inside outlines, for example) have been used.

Type 4
Semi-undocumented format which is basically a Type 1 with a BuildChar procedure like a Type 3. It’s Adobe’s way of providing a Type 1 that can load individual outlines incrementally from disk or ROM.

A distinctive, visually consistent design for the symbols in an alphabet.

type font
A complete set of characters in a consistent and unique typeface.

type page
The area of the page which includes all printed matter, including running heads, running footers, and folios, but not including margins.


A body of copy as seen by itself. The word conjures up a justified block of text but it can also be ragged.

A distinctive, visually consistent design for the symbols in an alphabet. Within the Latin language group of graphic shapes are the following forms: Uncial, Blackletter, Serif, Sans Serif, Scripts, and Decorative. Each form characterizes one or more designs. Example: Serif form contains four designs called Old Style, Transitional, Modern, and Slab Serif designs. The typeface called Bodoni is a Modern design, while Times Roman is a Transitional design. We need to realistically expect that this hierarchy will be expanded to include grafts and elements of the more experimental graphic faces. The category of Art Damaged or Distressed fonts is one example of an extension of the traditional groupings of face forms.

(1) The act or art of setting movable type. (2) The art of planning text area of a document, or of typesetting the text using good design

type size
The size of type, and type fonts, which are given and measured in points. A point is about 1/72 of an inch or 1/12th of a Pica. Points give an approximate measure of the vertical size of type.

(1) A writing machine that produces characters similar to typeset print by means of a manually operated keyboard that actuates a set of raised types, which strike the paper through an inked ribbon. (2) In printing, a typestyle like that of typewritten copy.

A professional designer of type, books, magazines, and other printed matter.


The art and practice of designing type, books and other printed matter according to æsthetic and scientific principles.

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