Designing Type: Terminology

Apex – A point at the top of a character where two strokes meet.
Bowl – A curved stroke that creates and enclosed space.
Bracket – The curved shapes that join horizontal and vertical strokes.
Horizontal stroke / Crossbar – The horizontal bar connecting the two strokes on an A and H.
Stem / Vertical stroke – The main, vertical, full-length stroke in upright characters.
Stroke / Diagonal stroke – A straight or curved diagonal line.
Serif – The small decorative pieces on the ends of vertical and horizontal letters.


Beak – A single-sided top serif or spur.
Counter – The open space in a partially or fully enclosed area in a letter.
Leg – The lower descending portion of a letter. Found on K and R.
Spine – The main curved stroke in an S and s.
Tail – A descending stroke at or below the baseline on the Q and often seen on a R and K.
Throat – The short stroke on the G.


Arm – A horizontal stroke that does not connect to a stroke or stem at one or both ends.
Ascender – The invisible line marking the height of ascenders in a font.
Baseline – The invisible line upon which a line of text rests.
Cap height – The vertical measurement for uppercase letter height.
Descender – The portion of a letter that extends below the baseline.
Vertex – A point at the bottom of a character where two strokes meet.
x-height – The vertical measurement for lowercase letter height.


Arm – A horizontal stroke that does not connect to a stroke or stem at one or both ends.
Aperture – The opening at the end of an open counter.
Ear -A small stroke projecting from the upper right bowl of a lowercase g.
Eye – The enclosed space in a lowercase e.
Finial – A tapered or curved end.
Hook – A curved, protruding stroke in a terminal.
Leg – The short, descending portion of a letter.
Link – A stroke that connects the top and bottom bowls of a lowercase double-story g.
Loop – The enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline of a double-story g.
Shoulder – A curved stroke that connects to a stem.
Terminal – The end of a stroke that does not include a serif.

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