Any scrpt or typeface with no distinction between upper and lower case.

See also Unicase.


Indices : Terminology : Versal

An ornamental capital letter, usually beginning a book section. Also known as a Drop Cap. Jessica Hische's Daily Drop Cap is a revival of this tradition.


Indices : Terminology : Humanist

Generally speaking, a typeface with a left-leaning axis. More specifically, a calligraphic or Venetian font.

Optima represents one of the less-common humanist sans-serifs.


Indices : Terminology : Axis

The oblique stress of a font. A Humanist typeface has a left-leaning axis, while a Rationalist typeface has a vertical axis.


Eng or engma (majuscule: Ŋ, minuscule: ŋ) is a letter of the Latin alphabet, used to represent a velar nasal (as in English singing) in the written form of some languages and in the International Phonetic Alphabet.
Lowercase eng is derived from n with the addition of a hook to the right leg, somewhat like that of j. The uppercase has two variants: it can be based on the usual uppercase N, with a hook added (or "N-form"); or it can be an enlarged version of the lowercase (or "n-form"). The former is preferred in Sami languages that use it, the latter in African languages.
Early printers, lacking a specific glyph for eng, sometimes approximated it by rotating a capital G, or by substituting a Greek eta (η) for it.

Typophile Threads:

Lowercase Numbers


Indices : Terminology : Terminal

The stroke of a glyph ends in a terminal.

Types of terminals include:


A classic workhorse typeface, a workhorse typeface or just a workhorse are descriptions given to a font tool that performs dependably (i.e., trustworthy and reliable) under heavy or prolonged use.

In a nutshell, a font is a workhorse if it performs well whether it is used in a few paragraphs or in a 600-pages novel.

A workhorse- or “easy-to-use”- type means that no matter what size, leading, letter-spacing, etc., the setting just “feels” right. It looks professional, it looks appropriate.


Metal type: A complete set of type of one size and face.
Digital: A software file which contains a set of encoded glyph shapes that may be used by a layout application to create typography.


Indices : Terminology : Terminal : Finial

A kind of terminal at the end of a stroke or arm. See also flourish and decoration.

Style Abbreviations

Indices : Terminology : Style Abbreviations

MC - Mid-Capitals (mid-caps)
SC - Small Capitals (small caps)
Exp - Expert Font

OS or OSF - Old Style Figures
LF - Lining Figures
TF - Tabular Figures


Indices : spacing

See letter spacing.


Indices : Terminology : Bold

A weight variation of a typeface which is heavier than the regular (often called roman) weight of a typeface. A bold typeface is often used to emphasize portions of text instead of italics.

? How to Design a Bold from Regular Weight
Where Do Bold Typefaces Come From?
Doing bold weights?


Indices : Terminology : Tittle

A tittle is the dot on the i or j.

What's That Dot?


Indices : Concepts : Readability

"Legibility" is based on the ease with which one letter can be told from the other. "Readability" is the ease with which the eye can absorb the message and move along the line.

--from ‘Types of Typefaces,’ by J. Ben Lieberman, 1967

Whether this distinction reflects an underlying difference in reality is controversial. For some of the controversy see:

What Makes an Italic Easy to Read?
Do Ligatures Improve Readability?
Reading Research: What Is Needed?


Indices: Terminology: Contrast

Relative measure between thick and thin strokes of a letterform.

Originally produced by the angle of the brush or pen nib, contrast was retained through the advent of mechanical type design and greatly exaggerated in the work of Didot and Bodoni. It was later almost completely eradicated in sans serif designs of the early twentieth century.

Lachrymal Terminal

Indices : Terminology : Terminal : Lachrymal Terminal

Teardrop shaped terminal of a letter.

Lachrymal Terminals taper into the stroke, as opposed to Ball Terminals, which join the stroke at an angle.


Indices : Terminology : Pangram

Pangrams are short passages that include all 26 characters of the alphabet. They're commonly used to help users of the font quickly assess a character set. They may also be useful to designers in the process of designing their own work but they are too compact for a more thorough assessment. Perhaps the most common pangram is The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Clever pangrams:
Boxer M. Tyson packs his bags with Jay-Z DVDs, Quik, Holyfield's ear. -- BJ Harvey

Typophile Boxing! Papazian jousts with quaking, anonymous detractor. Fight at eleven. -- Joe Pemberton

Lining Figures

Indices : Terminology : Lining Figures

Lining figures, or ranging figures, are numerals which share a common height. Lining figures are often titling figures, however they may be smaller and lighter than titling figures. Unfortunately, lining figures are the default figure style in most digital fonts where text figures would be more appropriate. However, this problem can be remedied in OpenType fonts which may offer several sets of figures to be used in different types of settings. Sometimes indicated as LF in the font's name.


Indices : Terminology : Fleuron

A typographic ornament usually in the shape of a flower or a leaf.

See also Hedera.

Letter Spacing

Indices : Terminology : Letter Spacing

The spacing between a series of characters in a line or paragraph of set text; also known as tracking. Spacing can be tight or loose. Note: letter spacing is different from kerning.

Spacing Method


Indices : Terminology : Mid-Capitals

Mid-capitals (also called medium capitals) are a larger form of small capitals.

Old-Style Figures

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