Glossary of fonts

galley A sheet containing a proof of unpaginated type composition. gamma

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A sheet containing a proof of unpaginated type composition.

gamma Γ γ
Seventh Letter of the Greek Alphabet. The font Symbol most often used on American Computers to Type Cyrillic Letters places it in ASCII 71, the space for capital G.

In bookbinding, the manner of arranging folded sheets or signatures in sequence.

glottal stop
A clicking expulsion of a minimal amount of air used in some languages as a fundamental phoneme ordinarily. Represented by the apostrophe.

(1) The actual shape (bit pattern, outline) of a character image. For example, an italic ‘a’ and a roman ‘a’ are two different glyphs representing the same underlying character. In this strict sense, any two images which differ in shape constitute different glyphs. In this usage, “glyph” is a synonym for “character image,” or simply “image.” (2) A kind of idealized surface form derived from some combination of underlying characters in some specific context, rather than an actual character image. In this broad usage, two images would constitute the same glyph whenever they have essentially the same topology (as in oblique ‘a’ and roman ‘a’ ), but different glyphs when one is written with a hooked top and the other without (the way one prints an ‘a’ by hand).

golden section

The ideal proportion according to the ancient Greeks. Visualized as the division of a line into two unequal segments in such a way that the ratio of the smaller segment to the larger segment is equal to the ratio of the larger to the whole. It is usually defined as 21:34, that is, 21/34 and 34/(21+34) both equal approximately 0.618. A rectangle whose sides are of this proportion is called a “golden rectangle”. Golden rectangles can be found in the proportions of the Parthenon and many medieval manuscripts.

A general term for late medieval blackletter alphabets. (A term of contempt applied by Renaissance scholars, even though the Goths had little or no influence on the writing of the middle ages.)

graphic arts
The craft and profession of producing visible images for reproduction.

graphic design
That part of graphic arts concerned with the impact of the product.

graphic designer
Person who designs and specifies the visible details of a graphic product.

Originally an inscription or design scratched on rock, stone or plaster. Now loosely applied to any writing on walls. (Plural of “graffito/”)

Render characters illegibly in part of layout, to emphasise design not content. Some word processing and page layout programs use a print preview feature that’s similar to greeking.

grid font
A graphical layout for the design of pages of a book or other document. Variations on pages must match divisions in the grid.

A decorative style of illumination developed in 16th century Italy, using incongruous combinations of monstrous and natural forms.

Another way to describe letters without serifs.

Pattern formed by the repetition of the same ornament in a body of text.

grunge typography

A catch-all phrase to describe a typographic wave in the 1990s. Grunge, like many typographic/artistic movements before it, was a rebellion; but this rebellion denied not only the relevance of anything previous, but sometimes even the relevance of legibility itself, in the belief that the medium *is* the message. As grunge type designer Carlos Segura of T-26 says, “Typography is beyond letters. Some fonts are so decorative, they almost become ‘visuals’ and when put in text form, they tell a story beyond the words — a canvas is created by the personality of the collection of words on the page.” Grunge typefaces and typography were seen in magazines such as RayGun and Bikini.

Most notably, (1) things to break while setting type. (2) dotted lines outlining the baseline and grid in the Fontographer space in which you design a letterform.

A unit of linear measure equal to 1/7200 inch, or about 1/100 of a point.

(1) The blank column between two columns of type. Also used for the fold and spine margins between the typeblocks on facing pages of a book. (2) The inner margin of a page, closest to the binding.




A visual record of thought produced by prescribed, hand-controlled movements of an instrument designed for marking a surface. Children are taught what is called manuscript writing. This is more like printing. Both capital letters and small letters are formed individually and are not run together. The characters are written vertically rather than slantwise. Many letters are made of several individual strokes of the pen. After manuscript writing has been mastered, pupils are taught cursive writing. This term is what many people mean when they use the term handwriting or script. In cursive the letters of a word are written in a continuous motion without lifting the pen from the paper. Generally speaking, manuscript writing is easier to learn and to read, while cursive has the advantage of greater speed in composition. A compromise between manuscript and cursive called joined manuscript is sometimes taught. The letter forms are those of ordinary unjoined manuscript, but many of them (such as m and t) are given “tails” that connect them with the following letters. Joined manuscript may be used to make the transition between manuscript and cursive, or it may be taught as a regular form of handwriting. Calligraphy is a more artistic, stylized form of handwriting which is used for decorative manuscripts.

hanging figures
Text figures.

hanging indention
Type set with the first line of the paragraph flush left, and the subsequent lines indented.

hard space
A word space that will not translate into a linebreak. Also called a no-break space.

From the days of setting type with metal or wooden letters: a receptacle for broken or discarded type.

An example of a sans-serif typeface. These first appeared in the late 19th century in Germany and flourished in the 1920s and 30s, when they were regarded as the future of typography. Its more a geometric design than the humanist design of Gill Sans, but less geometric than Avant Garde and Futura. Helvetica has is considered and overused typeface by many type users, novice and expert. Its innate form lacks the elegance of Frutiger’s Univers, but it does retain legibility at small sizes on a computer screen. In fact, 9 point Helvetica (from the bitmap-not interpreted TrueType) is more spatially economical than most other typefaces.

hierachy of scripts
A scheme often employed in manuscript books, where specific script styles were used for specific purposes.

A system of writing, such as that of ancient Egypt, in which pictorial symbols were used to represent meaning or sounds or a combination of meaning and sound. Literally “sacred carvings.”

In digital typography, reducing the weight (thickness) of a typeface so that small-sized fonts print without blurring or losing detail on 300-dots per inch (dpi) printers.


The mathematical instructions added to digital fonts to make them sharp at all sizes and on display devices of different resolutions.

house style
Standard of layout, punctuation, grammar, etc. within one organization.

Humanist letterforms are letterforms originating among the humanists of the Italian Renaissance. They are of two kinds: roman forms based on Carolingian script, and italic forms, which occur for the first time in Italy in the fifteenth century. Humanist letterforms show the clear trace of a broad-nib pen held by a right-handed scribe. They have a modulated stroke and a humanist axis.

Humanist Axis
An oblique stroke axis reflecting the natural inclination of the writing hand.

A method of preparing and publishing text, ideally suited to the computer, in which readers can choose their own paths through the material. To prepare hypertext, you first “chunk” the information into small, manageable units, such as single pages of text. These units are called nodes. You then embed hyperlinks (also called anchors) in the text. When the reader clicks on a hyperlink, the hypertext software displays a different node. The process of navigating among the nodes linked in this way is called browsing. A collection of nodes that are interconnected by hyperlinks is called a web. The World Wide Web (WWW) is a hypertext system on a global scale. Hypertext applications are particularly useful for working with massive amounts of text, such as encyclopedias and multivolume case law reporters.

hyphen -

A punctuation mark used in some compound words, such as gastro-intestinal, seventy-five, and mother-in-law. A hyphen is also used to divide a word at the end of a line of type. Hyphens may appear only between syllables. Thus com-pound is properly hyphenated, but compo-und is wrong.


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