Glossary of fonts


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dagger † ‡
A reference mark, used chiefly with footnotes. In European typography, it is also a sign of mortality, used to mark the year of death or the names of deceased persons, and in lexicography to mark obsolete forms. Also called obelisk or long cross.

damaged / distressed
A term used to describe letterforms that are intentionally distressed to provide an effect. It’s been suggested that letterforms mimic structures and architectural movements. This is evident with Roman typefaces which emulate the column-like precision of Roman Engineering and Gothic forms, whose minarets and curves certainly recall the sweeping lines of Gothic architecture. It’s most evident, however, when we see how the advent of precise, box-like engineering promoted the sans serif form during the last twenty years. What this implies about the current trend towards damaged faces is up to you to decide.

A term used to describe the effect that occurs when a set of characters or a character prints erratically on a page.

dashes – —
Standard fonts include, at minimum: an em dash — , an en dash (–) and hyphen (-). A figure dash and three-quarter emdash are often included as well, and a one-third em dash more rarely.

dead space
The area above the line where one is writing, where no more writing will be done.

degree °
Used in mathematics and in normal text to give temperatures, inclinations, latitudes, longitudes and compass bearings. Not to be confused with superior o used in abbreviations such as Ns, nor with the ring , which is diacritic.

delta Δ δ

Fourth Letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in ASCII 67- the space for capital “C” .It looks just like an “A” with the crossbar dropped to the baseline.

delta hints
Special hints that make exceptions at specific ppem sizes. They allow a point to be moved in fractions of pixels so the bitmaps can be altered. This is useful for removing and adding pixels or shifting all or part of a bitmap. There are two types of delta hints: ones that move outline points (DeltaP); and ones that alter ‘cvt’ values (DeltaC). Both deltas take three arguments: outline point or cvt #, the ppem size and the amount of movement.

demand publishing
Creation of printed documents in small runs or even in single copies, as needed. Digital Printing situations are one example.

demotic script
Originally, the simplified form of Egyptian hieratic script (“priestly writing”) used first for business and social correspondence; generally, any relatively simple rapidly written cursive form of a writing system.

Any of several standard sizes of paper, especially paper measuring 16 by 21 inches.

The manipulation of the edges of graphic images so as to minimize the effects of aliasing and reconstruction errors. Also called “half-bitting.”

The portion of a letter that extends below the baseline of the letter, such as the bottoms of y, p, and g.

descender line
A line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.

desktop publishing

The creation of documents of typeset quality by use of an expanded word-processing computer program; features are similar to those of typesetting, such as the use of a variety of character fonts, styles, and sizes, the manipulation of text, line art, and images, and some flexibility in page formatting and design, with results dependent on print capabilities; often utilizes style. Originated by Apple Macintosh, in which a user manipulates a mouse to activate commands from pull-down menus. In the last 15 years, desktop publishing has become a vague term, used by professional typesetters and publishers, and more often the inexperienced home and office user of the software for smaller, occasional projects. Professionals have since begun using terms like page layout, page design, and typography, to distinguish their training and experience from six week courses at community colleges in less featured cheaper software programs.

diaeresis / umlaut ¨
An accent used with vowels ( Ï ä ÿ ö ) in many languages, including Albanian, Breton, Estonian, Finnish, German, Swedish, Turkish and Welsh, and less frequently also in English, Spanish, Portugeuse, and French. Linguists distinguish between the umlaut, which marks a change in pronunciation of a single vowel and the diaeresis, which marks the separation of adjacent vowels (as in naïve and Brontë). The typographical symbol is the same, but in reference to English and the Romance languages, the correct term is “diaeresis,” while “umlaut” is correct in reference to most other languages in which the symbol is used. The umlauted or diaeretic vowels appear on normal fonts in composite form.

didot point
Unit of type measurement in Europe (except Britain); 1 Didot point = 0.3759 mm.

As related to typography, to convert any hard copy shapes or letters forms existing on a piece of paper, into bits of computer information (an image). In plainer terms, to scan some shapes… maybe with the intention of creating a typestyle.

dimension sign
Same as the multiplication sign.

Term for a typographical character shape that is not part of the alphabet. Most dingbats are pictograms, and are usually grouped into a single font set by a theme — tiny pictures of telephones, envelopes, hands, cars and the like used in the tourist industry. Others are more abstract symbols — check marks, crosses, cartographic symbols, the emblems of the suits of playing cards, and so on.

The study, translating and dating of ancient charters, diplomas and official documents.

display type

Type intended to catch the eye, usually of a large size and distinctive typeface.

see damaged

(1) A handwritten, typewritten, or printed sheet or sheets of paper containing data. (2) Any representation or collection of information or text. (3) To prepare documentation. In terms of font usage, a document is a file created with an application to some individual purpose in which fonts may be used. The metrics of a font may also reside in an AFM document which is merely a textual representation of that font’s character metrics.

dominant letters
In perception of words, those letters with ascenders (which have been shown to play a main role in recognition.)

The smallest element of a printed page.

dot commands
An approach to formatting in which a word processor records formatting instructions in the text but does not apply them to the text until it is printed.

dot leader
A row of evenly spaced periods or midpoints, often used by typographers to link flush-left text with flush-right numerals in a table of contents or similar context.

dotless i
A letter of the alphabet in Turkish. It is also used with floating accents to set Ì Ï Ó Ô.

double acute
An accent used on the vowels o and u in Hungarian. It is sometimes called the Hungarian umlaut. Not to be confused with the double prime nor with the close quote (“).

double bar
This is the standard figure in bibliographical work and an old standard reference mark in European typography. It is nevertheless missing in the ISO character list. It is easily made by kerning two bars together.

double dagger
A reference mark for footnoting. Also called double obelisk.

double prime

An abbreviation for inches (1"= 2.54 cm) and for seconds of arc (360"= 1s). Not to be confused with quotation marks nor with the double acute.

downloadable fonts
A printer font that is transferred from the hard disk to the printer’s memory at the time of printing. Often called soft fonts, downloadable fonts are the least convenient of the three types of printer fonts you can use. Downloading can consume from 5 to 10 minutes at the start of every operating session. See bit-mapped font, built-in font, cartridge font, downloading utility, font, font family, outline font, page description language (PDL), and PostScript.

dpi (dots per inch)
The usual measure of output resolution in digital typography and in laser printing.

drop cap
A large initial capital or versal embedded into the text. Traditionally the first capital letter of a paragraph, set in a larger point size and aligned with the top of the first line. As such, this method is used to indicate the start of a new section of text, such as a chapter.

drop folio
A folio (page number) dropped to the foot of the page when the folios on other pages are carried at the top. Often used on chapter openings.

dropline paragraph
A paragraph marked by dropping directly down one line space from the end of the previous paragraph, without going back to the left margin.

A page by page layout of a printed piece, made to exact size, showing location of all elements.

A basic letter of the alphabet in Croation. It is also required for romanized Macedonian and Serbian. The uppercase form of the letter is the same of the uppercase eth.


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