Glossary of fonts

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Egyptian type
Letterforms having square serifs and almost uniform thickness of strokes.

elevated cap
A large initial capital or versal set on the same baseline as the first line of the text.

A punctuation character consisting of three dots, or periods, in a row. It indicates that a word or phrase has been omitted. To access the ellipsis character in standard Mac typefaces, type option + semicolon.

em / em space / em quad
A measure of distance equal to the body of a capital. In linear measure, a distance equal to the type size, and in square measure, the square of the type size. Thus an em is 12pt (or a 12pt square) in 12pt type. Also called mutton.

em dash
A dash the length of an em is used to indicate a break in a sentence. To access the ellipsis character in standard Mac typefaces, type option + shift + hyphen.

en / en space / en quad
Half an em. To avoid misunderstanding when instructions are given orally, typographers often speak of ems as “muttons” and ens as “nuts.”

end note
A piece of text associated with the body of a document, like a foot-note but placed at the end of a section or chapter.

Originally, to copy or write in a large hand derived from court hand for formal documents, often elaborate and nearly illegible; in more recent use, hand scripting or calligraphy done on diplomas and certificates, usually in a distinct and legible hand.

The study of lettersin durable materials, such as stone.

Of or pertaining to a letter, epistle or personal correspondence.

epsilon Ε ε

Fifth Letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in ASCII 69, the space for capital E.

eta Η
Eighth Letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in ASCII 72, the space for capital H. It looks just like an H.

As of 01/28/02, the official currency and symbol for Europe.

An alphabet model or book worthy of being copied; a model.

The length of line required to set the alphabet of small, or lowercase, pica letters is 13 ems. If this alphabet takes more than 13 ems, it is said to be a fat or expanded face. If it takes less space, it is said to be lean or condensed.

expanded type
Type that is elongated in width proportionate to its height.

extended sets
Sets of characters that exist outside of the ASCII char. set including but no exclusively: Latin 1, European Latin, Extended Latin, Standard Phonetic, Modifier Letters, Generic Diacritical, Greek, Cyrillic, Extended Cyrillic, Hebrew, Currency Symbols, Letterlike Symbols, Arrows,Mathematical Operators, Super & Subscript, Form & Chart Components, Blocks, Geometric Shapes, Miscellaneous Technical, Dingbats

Descenders and ascenders; i.e. the parts of the letterform that extend below the baseline, as in p and q, or above the midline, as in b and d.

extensional spec
In a document formatter, the detailed specification of formatting information such as spacing, margins, and font, as opposed to intentional specification, in which the purpose of a passage is described, for example, verse.


Synonym for bowl. But large eye means large x-height. Open eye means large aperture.



The collection of glyphs within a specific style or incarnation of a text font. (e.g. Garamond bold is a face within the Garamond Family which defines the Garamond Font.)

The collection of faces linked stylistically to a specific text font.

fat faces
The “Fat Face” types were an offshoot of the moderns, intended for display purposes (that is, to be attention-getting for use in large sizes, particularly advertising). The first such types appeared from 1810–1820. They further exaggerated the contrast of modern typefaces, with slab-like vertical lines and extra emphasis of any vertical serifs, which often acquired a wedge shape. Bodoni Ultra, Normande and Elephant are all examples of fat face types which are closely based on early to mid-19th Century originals, and are available in digital form.

Originally ornamental work of fine gold or silver wire; in illumination texts, decoration with very fine lines, often speckled with dots of gold and silver.

fixed pitch

A monospaced- or fixed pitch- Font is suitable for typesetting computer programs since each character has precisely the same width- allowing that successive rows of glyphs sit directly below related rows. Courier is an example however there are nicer looking monospace fonts than Courier (which has oversize serifs), that still remain distinct from the text fonts like Times and Helvetica. A good one is OCR-B, designed by Adrian Frutiger as a monospaced version of his Univers more legible to OCR devices. It is clunky but ubiquitous. Note that monospaced fonts are less economical on space than proportional fonts. The terms “fixed-pitch”, “monospaced”, and “non-proportional” are equivalent, meaning that the advance widths of the character cells are identical within a font. “Pitch” means the number of characters per inch, horizontally. In scalable fonts, like Type1 or TrueType, both point size and pitch can be scaled. Note that pitch scales in inverse proportion to point size. If a font is 10 pitch at 12 point, then it will be 5 pitch at 24 point, and 20 pitch at 6 point. some fixed-pitch fonts include Letter Gothic — Adobe, etc…, Prestige — Adobe, OCR-B-Adobe, Monospace 821 — Bitstream, Monaco TrueType — Apple System 7, Lucida Sans Typewriter — Microsoft, Lucida Typewriter — Y&Y.

Flush left, which means set with an even left margin. By implication, the right margin is ragged. To be more precise, one could write FL/RR, meaning flush left, ragged right.

Flush left and right, which is to say justified.

An aristocratic dingbat. A typographical ornament, generally in the shape of a flower or a leaf. Some fleurons are designed to be set in bulk and in combinations, to produce what amounts to typographical wallpaper.

The purpose of Flex is to eliminate slight indentations in the font’s outline at small sizes if possible while keeping those same indentations at larger size. Use this feature when generating fonts from Fontographer if: a) There are segments in question composed of exactly two bezier curve segments, typically created by placing a corner point, a curve point, and a corner point b) the outer points are perfectly vertical or horizontal 3) the difference between the end points’ X/Y coordinates and the middle point (Flex Height or the depth of the “dent”) is 6 units or less in the flex direction. Note: applying Flex to a font can add as much as 10k to the size of the font file.

A decorative pen storke pulled out of a letter to serve primarily as an ornament. (From the Latin, meaning “to flower.”)

Aligned to the margin, i.e. with no indention.

flush and hung
Set with the first lines FL and subsequent lines indented.

A blank leaf at the beginning and/or end of a book, between the lining paper and the first of last signature.


(1) a large sheet of paper folded once to make two leaves or four pages of a book (2) in typography, a folio is a typeset page number, not the page itself.

(1) A font of type is an assortment of all characters of one size and style. Additional characters are called sorts. When manual typesetters had a font that was short of characters, it was said to be “out of sorts,” the origin of the slang expression.(2)A particular collection of characters of a typeface with unique parameters in the ‘Variation vector’ , a particular instance of values for orientation, size, posture, weight, etc., values. The word font or fount is derived from the word foundry, where, originally, type was cast. It has come to mean the vehicle which holds the typeface character collection. A font can be metal, photographic film, or electronic media (cartridge, tape, disk). You’ll notice that the relationship between the words “font” and “face” is already obfuscated. (3)In the world of metal type, this means a given alphabet, with all its accessory characters, in a given size. In relation to phototype, it usually means the assortment of standard patterns forming the character set, without regard to size, or the actual filmstrip or wheel on which these patterns are stored. In the world of digital type, the font is the character set itself or the digital information encoding it. (The older British spelling, fount, has not only the same meaning but also the same pronunciation.) When type was set by hand, it was kept in wooden trays called cases. The cases, which are popular among antique collectors, are about an inch deep and divided into compartments, or boxes, of various sizes. A complete font required two such trays, usually placed one above the other on a sloping frame. The upper case held the capitals, the lower case the small letters. This position of the trays led printers to refer to capital letters as uppercase and small letters as lowercase. Today type is set not from wooden trays but from film images or by means of a computer-controlled beam of electrons. [Middle French fonte active of founding, from (assumed) Vulgar Latin fundita, feminine of funditus, past participle of Latin fundere to found, pour — more at FOUND] — — -First appeared circa 1688 [Middle English, from Old English, from Late Latin font-, fons, from Latin, fountain]

font family
A set of fonts in several sizes and weights that share the same typeface. The following list constitutes a font family in the Helvetica typeface:
Helvetica Roman 10
Helvetica bold 10
Helvetica italic 10
Helvetica Roman 12
Helvetica bold 12
Helvetica italic 12
Helvetica bold italic 12
In Microsoft Windows 95, a font family includes several similar typefaces. Arial, Small Fonts, and MS Sans Serif are all considered part of the Swiss font family, for example.

A font creation application by Macromedia.

A sheet of writing or printing paper measuring approximately 13 by 16 inches, so called because of the watermark of a fool’s cap originally imprinted on this size sheet.

The point at which the stem of a letter reaches the base line.

The outside edge or margin of a book page; i.e. the edge or margin opposite the spine.

The mathematical transformation that allows a function in time or space to be examined in terms of its frequency components.

FPO (for position only)
Low resolution images are often used to speed the production of a document and are replaced by the high-resolution version when the document is ready for final output.

Flush right. With an even right margin. By implication, the left margin is ragged.


A class of blackletter types developed in the 16th century, so called because of its broken or fractured appearance.

french fold
In printing, a single leaf printed on one side only, then folded twice so the printed side constitutes a four-page folder or folded card.

front matter
Material, such as a title page, a copyright page, a table of contents, etc., that comes before the main text of a book.

full measure
Type that extends across the full width of the page or column, without indention.

function keys
The 10 or more keys placed along the top or left side of your keyboard and labeled F1 through F12. Function keys typically perform special commands specific to whatever software you’re using and are used in combination with the Ctrl or Alt keys.

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