For those of you curious enough about the miracle of type and interested in communicating in specifics with graphic professionals, we offer a bit more technical jargon that may facilitate discussions with your designer.


  • X-height: denotes the height of each letter and is literally a measurement of the height of the lowercase x in that font. When using fonts together, most designers will use fonts with comparable x-heights.
  • Set width: describes the width of each character, including the symbol itself as well as the space buffer between it and its neighbors.
  • Baseline: where the feet of your capital letters sit. Below this line are descenders and loops.

Letter components

  • Ascenders: the elements of lowercase characters that rise above the font's x-height for letters like h, t, and b.
  • Descenders: the letter elements that extend below the font's baseline for lowercase characters like g, p and y, and uppercase Q.
  • Stems (or strokes): the full height vertical (or primary-diagonal) lines in upright letters like T, k, or B.
  • Bars: the horizontal lines that span the space between two outer lines, as in a capital A or H or lowercase t or e.
  • Counters: the spaces enclosed by a letterform. Counters can either be open, as in a c or S, or closed, as in an O or the number 8.

Typeface categories

  • Serifs (aka Roman) which feature "feet" to improve legibility.
    • Old Style types are traditional workhorses, often used for printed text and anything where legibility is essential. These classics generally connote staid dependability and refinement.
    • Transitional typefaces shift further away from handwriting, giving them a formal elegance, precision, and verticality often associated with Enlightenment-era idealism.
    • Modern/Didone typefaces tend to look expensive and stylish, contrasting thick and thin strokes dynamically. Almost any fashion or jewelry ad sports a Didone because they telegraph glamor and sophistication.
    • Slab/Egyptian serifs emerged with the dawn of industrial-age advertising, and their blockiness made them stand out in printed adverts. In recent years, they've resurged as the funky hipster font of choice because of their boldness and retro vibe.
  • Sans Serifs (aka Gothic) which forgo "feet" in favor of clean lines.
    • Grotesques (Neo-grotesques) include some of the most ubiquitous typefaces (Arial, Helvetica, Univers), which gives them a practical, utilitarian appearance.
    • Geometric typefaces echo simple shapes like circles and squares and avoid ornamentation, which imparts a sleek, abstract style generally associated with Deco-era Bauhaus design.
    • Humanist fonts are more legible and have a quirky, calligraphic quality in the variation of their line widths, which offers a warmer, friendlier feel than the relative sterility of more abstract sans serifs.
  • Scripts which mimic handwriting.
    • Calligraphy/Formal scripts are the most elaborate of type, mimicking the boilerplate handwriting of the Enlightenment era. As the epitome of fancy script, they show up on millions of wedding invitations, but their terrible legibility makes them next to useless for much promo design.
    • Blackletter (also known as Gothic) scripts are "ye olde" historical lettering that Renaissance festivals adore and credulous drunkards use to tattoo heavy metal slogans on themselves. Blackletter typefaces convey ominous antiquity, but are largely illegible. Proceed cautiously!
    • Casual scripts resemble actual handwriting, making them ideal for any design in which a personal, bold, or informal impression is preferable.
  • Decorative fonts run the gamut of themes, styles, and kooky options suitable for display. Beware of the ubiquitous decorative fonts that dog dog your genre to the shame of credible designers everywhere. (e.g. dripping all-caps for horror, sleek space-age illegibility for sci-fi, and olde-worlde Uncials for fantasy.) Never court cliché.
Share this content:

Privacy Policy

Any contact information collected by the Your A Game authors and their staff via newsletter, giveaway, or direct exchange will adhere to the following privacy policy:

  • No information collected in any venue by Your A Game will be distributed in any way to any third party at any time unless specifically stated.
  • Your A Game newsletter subscribers must elect to join this mail-serve themselves and will not be added manually unless this is specifically requested in writing. No information collected will be used to populate any other newsletter or mailing lists, including the personal mailing lists of the authors of this book.
  • For contests, winners will be announced on one or all of the following public mediums: the Your A Game website, Twitter, Facebook, newsletter, Rafflecopter, or other social media service. Only the name given as an entrant will be displayed. No emails, addresses, or phone numbers will ever be shared when winners are announced.
  • Information collected for giveaways will be saved only for purposes of picking winners and delivering giveaway prizes. Reply emails from winners will be saved only to verify receipt of notification. Any physical addresses collected for purposes of this contest will be used only to mail prize winnings and will not be saved or used for any other purpose now or at any time.

If you have questions about this privacy policy, please email us at info@your-A-game.com.