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The following is a glossary of some common typographic terms you may encounter when working with fonts in Word:
Ascender: The part of certain lowercase letter that extends above the x-height of a font.
Ascender Line: A line marking the topmost point of the cap line.
Baseline: The line along which the bases of all capital letters (and most lowercase letters) are positioned.
Cap Height: The height of the uppercase letters within a font.
Cap Line: A line marking the height of uppercase letters within a font.
Descender: The portion of a lowercase letter that extends below the base line of the letter.
Descender Line: A line marking the lowest point of the descenders within a font.
Em: A unit of measurement equal to the current type size. For example, an em in 12 point type is equal to 12 points.
En: A unit of measurement equal to half of one em.
Font: The complete set of characters for one typeface at one particular type size, excluding attributes such as bold or italic.
Font Family: Group of typefaces with similar characteristics. For example, the sans serif typefaces Arial, Arial Bold, Arial Bold Italic, Arial Italic, Small Fonts, and MS Sans Serif are all part of the Swiss font family.
Font Size: A measurement describing the body height of type. Font size, usually specified in points, typically refers to the type’s height from slightly above the highest ascender to slightly below the lowest descender, allowing space for the display of accents and other marks. The relationship between the font size and the actual size of printed text can vary from one font to another depending on choices made by the font designer.
Font Style: Refers to the specific characteristics of the font. The four characteristics that can be defined for fonts are italic, bold, bold italic, and roman.
Kerning: The adjustment of spacing between letters. Also called Letter Spacing.
Leading: (pronounced "ledding") The amount of vertical space between lines of type.
Letter Spacing: Extra space inserted between letters in a word. Also called Kerning.
Ligature: A special double character in a font representing two letters as one. For example, ae and oe.
Line Spacing: The amount of vertical spacing, expressed in points, from the baseline of one line of text, to the baseline of the next line.
Mean Line: The line on which the top parts of most of the lowercase letters set (not the ascenders). Also called x-height.
Pica: A unit of measurement equal to one-sixth of an inch. There are 12 points to a pica.
Point: A unit of measurement, often used to measure type size, equal to 0.013837 inch (approximately equal to 1/72").
Sans Serif: A font that does not have serifs. For example, Helvetica or Modern.
Serif: A small cross stroke accentuating the end of the main stroke of a letter in some typefaces.
Serif Type: A font that has accents at the end of character strokes. For example, Times or Roman.
Slant: Refers to the angle of a font's characters, which can be italic or roman (no slant).
Spacing: Can be either fixed or proportional. In a fixed font, such as Courier, every character occupies the same amount of space. In a proportional font, such as Arial or Times New Roman(R), character width varies.
Pitch: Refers to the amount of horizontal space used for each character of fixed-width fonts. This is often specified in characters-per-inch (CPI), typically where 10-pitch equals 12-point, 12-pitch equals 10-point, and 15-pitch equals 8-point.
Typeface: A set of characters that share common characteristics, such as stroke width and the presence or absence of serifs.
Weight: Refers to the heaviness of the stroke for a specific font, such as Light, Regular, Book, Demi, Heavy, Black, and Extra Bold.
Width: Refers to whether the standard typeface has been extended or compressed horizontally. The common variations are Condensed, Normal, or Extended.
X-Height: The height of those lowercase letters such as "x", which do not have ascenders or descenders.
X Line: A line marking the top of those lowercase letters, such as "x", having no ascenders. The upper boundary of x-height.
The following diagram illustrates the positions of some of the above terms:
__ | XXXX X -- Ascender | X X X | mean line_____XXXXXX______XXXX_______X___X__ _ | X X X X X X | x-height | Font base line_____X____X______X___X_______XXXX__ _| (mean to base) | Size X | XXXX -- Descender | __|
For printing and display in a computer system, each font has its own character set according to the ASCII, ANSI, or original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standard or other industry standard that defines what character is represented by a specific keystroke. Windows uses the ANSI character set. Many non-Windows based applications use the ASCII character set or the OEM character set.
For more information about typography, please see the following Microsoft World Wide Web Site:
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