Key Typography Terms
Now you've heard me say a lot of different terms so far. You probably heard me say things like a centre de sender. You've heard me say things like tracking and current ing, but one of all those things mean well, now we're gonna transition into talking about some key typography terms that you need to know. So first up is something called a stroke. You heard me talk about thick and thin strokes a moment ago. A stroke refers to the single line that comprises the letter forms that you see. So, for instance, in a k that's on screen right now, the stroke is the bar of the left side of the K. Because if you were drawing as the first stroke he would make would be one like that Second stroke up, third stroke down. Now the things on the top, the little feet order those those air called sere ifs. And so a serif is the small feet or lines that are connected to the ends of strokes in a serif based typeface. So serif typefaces include things like times, new Roman treasure on pro, that kind of thing.
You also have San Serif, which is Ariel, Helvetica, Gotham, etcetera sans serif typefaces are just the same. They just don't have any SERIFIS. You'll notice they have square edges. There are a lot cleaner and don't have any of the feet or connectors that we talked about there. Cap height. This is something that a lot of people don't hear a whole lot, I would say the cap. It is basically just referring to the height of a capital letter from the baseline to the top of the cap. And so, in this example, the in here, the base line is the line that all types sits on. So when you create it, when you create a line of text, there's a lying that everything sits on When you're an illustrator, for instance, and I'll show you this. When we get in there, there's actually a little reference line that that's the baseline, and when you're creating type, you may have things that go above or below the baseline. But for the most part, everything stays within the baseline and something called the X height or the cap height. The cap height is the capital letter height. So what is it from the bottom to the top. How tall the X height. The Excite refers to the height of the letter in lower case forms, specifically the letter X in a typeface. So the X height is something like this in the cap. It would be like this, and they both sit on the same baseline. But the X height is much smaller than the catfight camp. I'd is always for capital letters when we're talking about letters like the letter D or the letter B, and that's capital or lower case, you have something called a bowl, and the bowl is basically the curved strokes that create an enclosed space on a given character. So in the letter B, there's actually two bulls. They go around the outside and they create a space in between there, and that space is called a counter. The counter is the enclosed space inside of a letter form that's created by the bowls. So here we have one at the top and one at the bottom. In the letter D. We would have won inside there as well. In the letter e. There are tons of letters that have counters and lots of them that have bowls as well But just remember, the bowl is the curved segment that creates these in close spaces. In the counter is what's left behind. Spine is an interesting term because it on Lee refers to one letter. Not any other letter in the alphabet has a spine other than the letter s and the letter s the spine of that letter is just basically the curved stroke that goes along. And that's really all it is. So these this term shows up in a lot of typography books. And as I was doing research for this, I don't I understand why this is so prevalent throughout all these books. But if you take a look at the letter s and how often it's used in everyday life and things like that, the letter s is pretty important. And so naming that makes it a little bit easier for people to understand what's going on with the letter s. And if you look at the different forms of the letter s in different typefaces, you'll see the spine changes quite a bit. The angle, the shape, the severity of the curve, all of that is different, and you can really start to pick out typefaces just by taking a look at the letter s. So here's a little exercise I want you to do. I want you to go into an application. A photo shop illustrator. Word doesn't matter. Type up. The letter s increase the size, and then what I want you to do is just go through all the typefaces that are loaded onto your computer and let that change and just take a look at the appearance of the curve on the ass. And then as you go through there and you start to identify some of your favorites, I would just add those to your favorites list of typefaces and then see if you can identify them after the fact. My guess is you can identify ah, lot of different typefaces simply by looking at the spine of the S. That might sound crazy at first, but I can tell you this. I have three or four typefaces that I use a whole lot, and I can identify all of them by the letter. S probably couldn't do that with the letter T or M or anything like that. But letter s, I can get it every time. So just something to think about. A terminal. A terminal is a serif just like the serif that we talked about earlier. But the terminal is actually a serif that signifies the termination of a stroke. So, for instance, here on the letter F, they're assuming you're coming from the bottom and then finishing at the top, and so that little serif or flare there at the top. That's called the terminal because you're terminating the stroke after you get to that point. And not all typefaces have terminals. Obviously, this is a reserved for serif typefaces. But if you take a look at some of the serif typefaces that are out there, you can kind of start to figure out what those terminals are and what letters they're associated with. A sender. A. Senders are pieces of a letter form that extend past the X height of a lower case letter. So with the letter H, for instance, the top of the curve on the letter H. That's probably where the X height is, because if we went linearly across and type the letter X next to it, and probably about that tall the stem that comes up from that that extends past the Excite is the A sender. Off this particular letter, you've got a lot of letters that have that. That would be the letter h. The letter D the letter l There are lots of letters that have these a sender's that go above the X height. There are also letters that have things that go below the baseline, these air called D senders. And so anything that goes below the baseline like the letter why or the letter G or the letter J in cursive, that kind of thing. All of those are de senders. And so you just think about it. Something a sense past the excite. Something descends below the baseline very easy to remember those, but you'll often times here people, especially in the design community, talk about needing a specific typeface with a stylized de sender or with a angled a sender. That's what they're talking about. And so when you're out there and you're talking to other designers and you're trying to work on projects, especially if you're in a group together, it helps to understand terminology like that. Maybe you know of a typeface that has an angled a center you could just say, OK, well, let's let's use this It's very helpful to know all of the things that we're talking about because it makes it a little bit easier for you to communicate with other people. That's not to say that you're gonna be explaining the D Centre, a centre to a client, but for you personally and in your career going forward, it makes sense to learn all of these terms so that you know where you're at and other people can communicate with you about it as well. Now let's talk a little bit about turning and tracking. Turning is basically the act of reducing or increasing space between characters inside of a word. And so, in this case, the letter A in the letter V. You also saw it earlier when I was talking about the New York poster. There's a little too much space in between these. If we re laying this out and let's say that that was going to spell the word avenue, chances are the letter E would look really close to the letter V, as opposed to here, where it looks like we've got a road in between them that we could drive through. So how do we fix that? Well, we would just simply current it over. And when you current it over, your basically reducing the space in between just those two characters. Now, if you get a good typeface that's been designed correctly, sometimes you don't even have to current at all. But if you're using typefaces from free, resource is which a lot of people dio or typefaces that are created by people that just published him on deviant art or something like that, chances are there's gonna be some current ING problems in there, and so you might need to go in and fix it. That's not to say it's a bad typeface and that you shouldn't use it, but you are gonna have to spend a little bit more time working with it to make sure that it looks its best in the final result. And it's very simple to do that. When I get into Illustrator here in just a moment, I'll show you exactly how to current things together, and you'll see that it's actually quite easy. Tracking. Tracking is the active, increasing or decreasing space along an entire block of text or a line of text, and you'll see this a lot. The tracking gets increased a lot on things like movie posters. If you look at movie posters, will have a big heading that takes up a majority of it and then like a subheading and it'll be really spaced out. Like if there's if it's a number of a release in a trilogy or something like that, it'll part three, Part four and those will be really spaced out. If you look at some of the science fiction posters that are out there, those oftentimes incorporate a lot of extra tracking. And I actually have a lot of tracking built into a lot of the stuff that I produces Well, if you look at any of the logos that I've done for myself personally, I try to space out my name the same way. And it's just it's an aesthetic choice. It's not necessarily that it needs toe happen. It's just something that you might want the happen, and there are also certain typefaces that might be a little too tightly tracked. And so you want to expand that out a little bit, making a little bit more readable That's not to say that you should really create a huge gap, but spacing it out a little bit. Adding a little bit of letter spacing makes something a little bit easier to read. Sometimes it's all dependent on your personal choice and the project itself. If the project doesn't call for it, then I wouldn't worry about it. If you don't like that expanded text, I wouldn't use it either. But just knowing what it is, in case somebody comes back, you know, client maybe comes back and says We need more tracking on that. I don't think that will happen. But if it does now, you know what did this letting? Leading is the amount of space between two lines of text. Now we're gonna talk here in a minute about the old school typesetting method versus the new school types. Any method and letting actually goes hand in hand with that, letting refers to the amount of space in between two lines. But why are we calling it letting I understand, like tracking your track ACC, earning your kind of, you know, moving things back Both of those terms, there's still just a little odd, but letting What does that mean? Well, when we were traditionally setting type with lead or wood based type in order to create the spacing between lines, they would actually have a block of wood or a block of lead that would go in between the lines. That's how they separated them and based on how big that block of wood or block of lead was, that's the number of letting that you would create. And so letting is basically done in points. Or, if you're working in a pixel based scenario, pixels and you choose the amount of space based on the number that you add. If you're still traditionally setting typefaces using a California job case or would based type, you would do the same thing. If you needed more space in between something you would throw another piece of lead in there. Are you throw another piece of wood in there, and that's how you create that space. Most of the terms that we talk about in modern typography are exactly what they used to be when we were traditionally setting typefaces, but we don't really have a new term for it, so they just kept the old ones and tried to translate it as best they could most of time. People see this being done. They know what it is, but they don't know the history behind it. And so that's kind of what I wanted to touch on. Here is the differences between modern and old school typeface setting and why some of these terms are still sticking around. There's an example of expanding the leading on this. If I go back, there's before and after. So that's increasing the amount. A lot of applications called this line spacing, and you'll actually see that, especially if you're writing CSS. You can see it in applications like Keynote and word. All those applications refer to it as line spacing, but at the end of the day, it's letting