A type style that first became popular in the early nineteenth century in which the most notable characteristic is the lack of serifs. In subcategories of sans serif typefaces, finer details of form are differentiated. Variations include geometric-based designs (example: Futura), those based on Renaissance or humanistic proportions (example: Optima), and those based on the proportions of slab-serif letters (examples: Helvetica, Franklin Gothic). This last category is also known in the U.S. as Gothic and in the U.K. as grotesque or grot. Sans serifs in general are also known by the French term linéale (in English, lineale). In English, sometimes unserifed is used.
A set of symbols in a particular typeface for which shapes are stored in a computer or printer and used in creating bit maps as needed for many different sizes of the typeface; hence the typeface data take up less space than a collection of bit-mapped fonts. Typically used for representing type with medium- and high-resolution printers. An outline font is the most common form of scalable font. See also outline font.
A short line or finishing stroke that crosses or projects from stems or strokes in a character. Serifs have many shapes, including hairline, bracketed, wedge, and slab.
See set width.
Describes type composed with space between lines (line spacing, interlinear space, or in contemporary usage, frequently leading) that matches the typeface size, for example, 10 on 10 (10 point type with 10 point line spacing). Traditionally, when leading is defined as extra space added between lines of type, a typeface is set solid when it is set with no leading. See also leading, line spacing.
In all kinds of typesetting, the horizontal space a character occupies, including the spaces on either side. Also known as set, width, character width, and (in digital and phototypesetting and in reference to typewriters) escapement. Since the development of machines that mechanically cast metal type, the measurement of this space has usually been given in relative units; however, in computer-aided type design, millimeters are also sometimes used. The measurement of set width is often known as the width value; sometimes the term set width is also used to describe this measurement.
In digital and phototypesetting, set width also describes electronic modifications to typeface width by modifying the widths of both the characters and their side spaces. In composition with metal type, it also refers to a measurement describing the width of a typeface in relation to its height. For example, Monotype used an em square (quad) that varied in width according to the typeface design. The varying width factor was known as the set. A slightly condensed typeface might be described as having a 10 point, 9 set design, meaning that its em square at 10 points was only 9 points wide. (In other words, it was not truly a square but was slightly narrower than it was high.) Also in founding metal type, set of the mold sometimes referred to an adjustment to the mold used to cast each letter to differing widths. See also width, width value, unit system.
A solid or shaded projection from a character, often designed to make the character appear three-dimensional. Often found to the right and/or below characters in some display typefaces.
A transitional section on a character, including lowercase letters such as h, m, n, or u where a curved arch merges into a straight stem. Also, in composition with metal type, the nonprinting area on the physical block of type between the baseline and the front of the type body or shank, or sometimes between the tallest capital and the back of the type body.
A term with multiple, somewhat conflicting, definitions. Traditionally, the spaces assigned to either side of a character, intended to ensure that text, when typeset, has an even appearance. A type designer determines the size of these spaces visually for each character or sometimes in relation to other characters (known as standards), such as the H, O, n, and o. In computer-aided type design, often refers to measurements from the left and right edges of a character's space to the leftmost and rightmost points, respectively, of the character image. Type designers also sometimes use this term to refer to the extreme left and right edges of the space occupied by a character. See also reference lines, side spaces.
A term used by Walter Tracy in Letters of Credit for the spaces assigned to the left and right side of each character to allow for even spacing of typeset characters. Also known as side bearings, a term that has some conflicting alternate definitions. While these spaces are ultimately selected visually for most characters, the measurement used for reference in spacing by many type designers is from the width boundary (in computer-aided type design, sometimes known as a reference line) to the main stem or curve on each side of the character or to the farthest left or right point in the case of a character with diagonals such as A or V. (Note that this method of measuring is different than that used by many computer-aided type design programs in determining the measurements that they refer to as side bearings.) The size of side spaces contributes strongly to the overall color or appearance of a typeface when it is typeset. See also color, reference lines, side bearings.
See square serif.
In mechanized metal typesetting, a line of type cast as a unit. See also metal type.
small capitals, small caps
Specially designed capital letters that are usually drawn slightly larger than the lowercase x-height. Small capitals are more common in seriffed roman typefaces and are usually found in book weights and sometimes in medium and bold weights. They are often used in book composition.
In composition with metal type, refers to any particular character from a specific typeface on its individual block of metal, as distinct from a complete font. In digital and phototypesetting, also sometimes refers to an individual character, either in a specific typeface or as an abstract visual idea. In reference to all kinds of type, often used in reference to additional characters not in a standard font or character set (extra sorts, odd sorts, or special sorts). See also character, type.
In type design, the process of determining the size of spaces that appear between composed characters. May also be used to describe the appearance of the spacing or fit itself. In typography and typesetting, describes the space between letters and its adjustment (letter spacing), the space between words (word spacing), and the space between lines (line spacing or leading). See also leading, letter spacing, word space.
One of two variations of floating accents. Spacing accents have a width value and can be typeset alone or in combination with a letter. They are used as one of the components of a composite accented letter, that is, they are combined with a letter by the typesetting device using coded information, according to a plan that is preconfigured by the type designer. See also composite character, floating accent, nonspacing accents, width value.
See pi character.
Any sample of type. Traditionally used by type manufacturers to advertise their typefaces and by printers, compositors, and graphic designers for reference.
See piece fraction.
The main stroke of the letter s.
Seriflike extensions projecting from arms and curved strokes on such letters as C, E, F, G, S, T, and Z; also sometimes on letters such as a, c, and f. Also known as a spur serif. Alternatively, some authors reserve the term spur for the small projection at lower right on the G in some typefaces and use beak for projections on the other letters.
A type style that evolved mainly during the nineteenth century, also known as slab serif or Egyptian. In the earliest square-serif typefaces, designed for display, the most notable characteristic is the square-cut serif that is the same optical weight as the stem (example: Vincent Figgins' Antique typeface). There is little or no difference in thickness between the strokes that make up the character, and the serifs are usually unbracketed. In Clarendon typefaces, originally designed for use as a boldface with text, serifs are bracketed and strokes have some degree of contrast (example: Craw Clarendon). In French Clarendon typefaces, serifs are thicker than the stems and are sometimes unbracketed (examples: P.T. Barnum, Branding Iron). Twentieth-century square- serif typefaces include designs based on geometric sans serif models such as Futura (examples: Memphis, Stymie).
In the spacing of a typeface, a character whose side spaces are used by the type designer as models for determining side spaces of other related characters. Standards for spacing are usually H and O for capitals, n and o for lowercase letters, and zero for numerals and related characters. Side spaces of other characters, such as punctuation marks and reference symbols, may also be compared with these standards.
A primary vertical or near-vertical full-length stroke of a character (as in I, E, b, p, or 1 and 4). For some authors, includes full-length diagonal strokes (diagonals or diagonal stems, as in A, V, W, v, w, and y).
In a curved letter, the thickening of curved strokes and the position or angle of this thickening in relationship to the vertical axis. An important design feature of most typeface and lettering styles, stress is derived from a related feature in writing created with a broad-edged writing instrument. Stress is typically described as either diagonal (oblique or biased), as in a typeface such as Sabon, or vertical as in Century Schoolbook however, horizontal stress is also possible (as in P.T. Barnum or Branding Iron). The characters of a typeface may all share the same angle of stress or may have slightly varying angles; sometimes capitals and lowercase letters in the same typeface are designed to have different angles of stress. Also called curve stress; a curved letter may also be said to have an inclined or tilted axis. See also axis.
Any single linear element in a character.
The point at which two or more linear elements of a character meet.
The fundamental skeletal form of a character, excluding details such as serifs, curve stress, and line weight. Some authors apply this term to different classifications of type styles, such as black letter, sans serif, and others.
A letter with one or more added ornamental strokes (which are sometimes called flourishes). Most common in italic typefaces; often created as an alternate to an unadorned version of the letter.
See character set.