The Typograph.Community is made up of a diverse bunch of curious creatives, some with very deep knowledge of the mechanics of type and others with more enthusiasm than technical understanding. It can be challenging to write for a broad audience. We are all at different points in our creative journey and I recognize I can't write one text to please everyone... there are loads of great academic and theory textbooks out there covering type and typography for the readers that want to go deep (many of them are listed in the references sections of the journal!).

But It is really important to me the Typograph.Journal is an inclusive document, that it is conversational, easily understood and accessible to all those with an interest in how we visually communicate... As a result I wanted to develop some online content to accompany the journal. A visual glossary to explore the vocabulary of visual communication as it is used within its pages. It is my intention to expand this glossary overtime. And I would love it to be an interactive source of information for the Typograph.Community - so if there is a term, thinking or theme you would like to see explained here please let me know!

Aperture, There was a really interesting conversation on twitter recently about the difference between (and intersection of) an aperture and the counterspace. Typographers had a number of differing opinions. I identify with the aperture as the opening (in relation to how aperture is used in photography) but suspect prior to reading the twitter thread I have used the terms incorrectly in a type context. My current understanding is the aperture is a constrained opening and that the partially enclosed space beyond that opening is the counter.

(For more on this read Ralf Herrmann''s conversation thread)

Ascender, A vertical stroke or stem of lowercase letters that extends above the typeface’s x-height. (note that this is often greater than the cap height.


Alignment, Arrangement or form of type and content. Used in typographic terms as left and right ragged, also justified.

Apex & Apices, The high point of a cap A, (where the left and right angular strokes meet) is the apex. The apex can provide a clue to identifying a classification for the type. Its geometry may be sharp, blunt, or round depending on the typeface.Adjoining angles of typographic strokes are called apices if located at the top of the form and vertices if at the baseline. W has one apex and two vertices; v has one vertex.

Arm, Technically an arm is a horizontal stroke not connected on one end. Although in TypographJournal the arm is sometimes referred to as a 'horizontal stroke' and/or 'cross bar' where compared with other horizontal anatomy of letterforms to ensure the content is easily understood, accessible and to minimize jargon.


Archetype, the essential form (or structural pattern) that letterforms emulate to be both recognisable and legible. A cap A’s Archetype is two reflected angular strokes that join at their highest point (apex) with a horizontal cross bar that intersects the angular strokes.

Axis, Used to describe posture, the angle that bisects the upper and lower strokes is the axis. In typefaces with stroke contrast, the inclination of the lowercase o axis is used to measure the angle of stress. A completely vertical axis results in a neutral, upright posture. When the axis leans left or right the letterforms have (positive or negative) stress. Often in old-style typefaces the axis is more inclined, and in transitional and didone faces, it’s vertical. Rational and geometric typefaces often have a neutral axis (and stress).


Bats, (sometimes called Dingbats, or Printers Ornaments) A bat is an decorative character, icon, symbol or spacing device, that originated in handset typesetting. (Although the term is now more commonly used to describe fonts that have symbols and shapes as glyphs rather than roman or numeric characters).

Baseline, the line upon which the main body of the letters sit.

Baseline-Shift, attribute allows repositioning of a characters baseline relative to the dominant-baseline of the parent text. (particularly helpful for numerals and typesetting fractions).

Bowl, A curved stroke.

Screen Shot 2015-07-28 at 8.28.26 am.png

Blackletter, (sometimes called Old English or Gothic) These styles are based on the scribes’ lettering used in early books within the Northern European region. A blackletter font was the style Gutenberg manufactured for his 42-line bible (the first book printed with moveable type and the letterpress method). Interestingly the Nazi regime restricted all printed matter to this form and as a result after the war (particularly outside of Germany) the frequency blackletter styles were used took a sharp decline. However in recent years just as formal and casual script styles have seen a resurgence, blackletter is also becoming popular as display type.

Bitmap, (or raster graphic) is a digital image composed of a matrix (grid) of dots. When viewed at 100%, each dot corresponds to an individual pixel on a display. A bitmap font is one that stores each glyph as an scheme of pixels.

Bézier Curve is a line or "path" used to create vector graphics. It consists of two or more control points (or handles), which determine the size and shape of the line. (See Vector)

Bracketed serifs, Not all serifs are bracketed serifs. The bracket is a joining device (usually a concave curve or triangular wedge shape) that nests between the stem and serif. The shape of a bracket on a serif can be a strong indicator or clue to which classification and style the typeface is.

Bar, A horizontal stroke across the middle of a letter. Sometimes used interchangeably, with an arm and a cross stroke.

Classification, Typefaces can be classified into basic genres; with serifs, without serifs, scripts and decorative. However each of these genres is further broken down into sub categories (classifications) that help us identify and describe type styles.


Clarendon, These slab serifs feature heavy squared serifs with sweeping curved brackets, minimal stroke contrast, an upright posture (due to vertical stress), and exaggerated ball terminals. The smooth transition of these subtle brackets have the effect of making clarendon styles more refined and (arguably) more comfortable to read than egyptian serifs. The clarendon style first appeared in the mid-19th century as bold text faces but were later popularised as display type in posters and advertising.

CRT, (Cathode ray tube) display’s produce images when an electron activates a phosphorescent surface. Common technology in monitors and phototypesetting 1960-1990. CRT composition distorted character width. CRT monitors made the traditional letterforms difficult to reconstruct. Rather than getting hung up on the aesthetic issues the technology presented with the existing alphabet, Wim Crouwel set out to redesign (and simplify) the alphabet using the underlying CRT dot-matrix system as a grid.

Contrast,  The difference in weight between the thickest and thinnest strokes in a typeface is the contrast. Traditionally contrast was defined by the movement, pressure, sequence and stroke of the pen. Typefaces have varying degrees of contrast. Monolinear and very rational typefaces have no contrast, while didone styles have very high contrast. Reverse contrast fonts have horizontal stress instead of vertical stress.

Using the weight nodes from page 11 of volume 03, we can see Museo sans 700 (in grey) has a difference in contrast of 48% (weight variance from 2.5mm-1.3mm) and Australis regular (in 172u) has a difference in contrast of 78% (weight variance from 1.9-0.4mm)

Character, A letter, glyph, numeral, dash, punctuation mark.

Carolingian, See Italic (origins of)

Crossbar, A horizontal stroke. (See Bar, Arm and Cross Stroke Also).

Cross Stroke, A horizontal stroke across the stem of a lowercase t or f. Often used interchangeably, with bar and crossbar.

Counter, A totally or partially enclosed white space contained within a letter. (also see my note on Aperture)

Crotch (also see vertex) the crotch is an acute, inside angle where two strokes meet.

Didone, (sometimes called Modern or NeoClassic) These elegant typefaces have extreme and dramatic thick-to-thin contrast; usually with superfine hairline non-bracketed flat serifs. They typically also have a strong vertical stress giving them a very upright posture. Terminals often have ball shapes to complete strokes. Architectural quality craftsmanship is evident in the construction and balance of these letterforms. Didone faces are often associated with luxury and fashion.

Display, faces derived from (and share attributes with) the other type classifications. But the distinguishing characteristic of a display face is that it will usually work best at a large size, and have low legibility in large quantities.

Descender, A downward stroke on lowercase letters that dips below the baseline.


Deconstruct,  To pull apart, interrogate or to subvert conventional structure.

Design Discourse,  Conversational thought around design thinking. And more formal communication on the subject.



Dot gain, is the effect of halftone dots growing through ink spreading in the print production process. (See ink spread!) Print causes distortion to artwork (and type!) Instead of reproducing a dot in its true value a tiny amount of ink surrounds the dot, and causes it to grow. The greater the circumference, the greater the amount of gain. (see Ink trap which also related to ink spread and dotgain).

Egyptian Slab,  (sometimes called Mechanistic) Like the clarendon classification Egyptian slab typefaces sit under the broader classification of Slab Serif. What makes these faces distinct is the very low contrast (or often uniform) stroke, with square, unbracketed serifs.


Experimentation, Visual research, playfulness, risk taking, new methodology engagement in
the design process, or the act of inquisitive design.

Eye, the enclosed space inside lowercase ‘e’.

Emphasis, Visual attention seeking!

Ear, A stroke that projects from the upper right bowl of some double decker g’s.

Face, Often an abbreviated reference interchangeable with typeface. But also reference to the flat relief form of physical type.

Form, Appearance, Shape, Design, Structure, Layout, Visual Language.

Font, A font physically is a set of metal sorts or digitally is the software. A font is what you use, and a typeface is what you see.

Function, Meaning or purpose but also usability.

Format, Used in this publication in reference to the physical appearance of the printed document as well as the layout and structure of a design.

Finial, A tapered end-point, as is evident on c or e.


Geometric Sans Serif, Typically based on geometric circle, square and triangle shapes, these clean modular letterforms are without (sans) serifs. They are rational and structured forms with uniform stroke width. These sans serif faces first appeared in the early 20th century.

Grotesque Sans Serif, These early sans serifs first appeared in the 19th century. Contrast in stroke weight is most apparent in Grotesque styles than in other sans serif faces. Early examples tend to have an optical squareness to the round letterforms. Usually the curved strokes on the Cc, e, and Ss letterforms will terminate at a sharp angle. The R often has a kick, flare or curve to the leg. And the Gg’s are good for distinguishing class as typically the uppercase has a spur and the lowercase has a double story “bowl and loop” archetype.

Garalde - see Old Style Serif

Gothic - see Blackletter

Grid, Mathematical divisions to guide layout function and structure.

Glyph, Every character in a typeface.

Glyphic and Latin Serifs, These typefaces tend to be derived from carved or engraved inscriptions rather than pen-drawn letterforms. Contrast is usually minimal, and the stress is neutral. The distinguishing feature of these faces is the triangular serifs, or flared strokes as they terminate, giving the chiseled appearance.

Humanist Serif,  These early Venetian typefaces were a radical leap from the blackletter faces that proceeded them.
The Humanist serif typefaces first appeared in the 15th century and were the first true Roman typefaces. The forms were based on the calligraphic Italian handwriting style Lettera Antica. Crossbars on the lowercase e are typically angled, which can be a distinguishing of these faces. Humanist serifs also fall under the broader classification of Oldstyle Serif.

Homoglyphs, one of two or more characters, with shapes that cannot be differentiated by quick inspection. This is most common in sans serif faces with uppercase I lowercase l and the numeral 1.

Humanist Sans Serif,  With classical Roman proportions, handwritten human qualities are evident in this type classification. These sans serif faces draw inspiration from humanist serifs and show some of the same calligraphic influences. Humanist sans have moderate-to-subtle stroke contrast and a gentle oblique stress. They first appeared in the 20th century, and are widely accepted as the most legible of all sans serif faces (although I am not sure I entirely agree on that!)

Italic, Typically (although not always!) Inclined type - often used as emphasis. This text is italic. (sometimes also called Oblique).

The expanded information below was supplied by calligrapher Maria Montes via Oriol Miro’s teaching on the origins of the italic:"...An adaptation of the carolingian script from the 10th century. The carolingian is a hand of engaging clarity, carefully written with many rounded strokes and high speed when writing. This greater flexibility and agility in writing leads our script into a continuous structure, and this is the distinguishing fact that defines the italic hand. Continuous structure means that we do not lift the pen from the paper and each letter is made with one single stroke. This agility also leads our writing into a slight slant of the vertical strokes, making it slanted. But slanting is a secondary feature, what is important in the italics is their continuous structure, and this is also what defines italic typefaces.”

Ink Spread, When the type is printed, ink naturally spreads outwards from the face soaking the beard of physical type. The printed instance creates a heavier impression than the physical type area. For small point sizes of text, it can also cause swelling at intersections, false or increased cupping to the strokes and serifs, softened geometry, blurs or rags to the edge. (Also see related dot-gain)

Italian (see Reverse contrast). These display faces attract attention by being deliberately awkward. The structural approach defies optical convention by inverting the thin and thick strokes creating designs that are often described as freakish and perverse.

click to enlarge!

Ink Trap, An ink trap accommodates distortion in the reproduction process - ensuring the printed instance accurately represents what the designer intended for the typeface. Usually positioned at an intersection, an ink trap removes detail (and optical weight) from the structure of letterforms. When the type is printed, and the ink spreads it collects in the ink trap area.


Kit of parts, A series of part to whole relationships. Division of a larger framework into a series of units. Often used to describe shape grammar and the modularity of typography with the pages of the Typograph.Journal. ‘Kit of parts’ (or elemental) thinking in typography is often attributed to visually rigid typefaces, but the structure of our alphabet derives from the movement of the hand. Since the days of the scribe we have built letter structures from a series of modules.

Ligature, Two or more letters combined together to form a single glyph with optimal spacing; style and flirtation between the characters.

Leading, The vertical space between lines of text. The language is derived from letterpress print technology where strips of lead are used in between lines of physical type to control the interline spacing.

Link and Loop, The link is the stroke that connects the top and bottom bowls of double decker g’s. And the loop is the enclosed (or partially enclosed) counter below the double decker g baseline.

Legibility, Legibility and readability are closely related but not the same. The degree to which a typeface is legible is controlled by the face’s designer. While readability is controlled by the designer of the layout. Legibility primarily describes how easily distinguished the letterforms are individually and when collected together how efficiently word-shape recognition is achieved.

The linotype machine is a "line casting" machine that it produces an entire typeset line of metal type.

The linotype operator typed text onto a typewriter like keyboard. The machine assembles matrices, in a line which form a mould to cast the line of type in hot metal (usually lead). The assembled line is then cast as a single piece, called a slug. The matrices are then returned to the type magazine from which they came, to be reused later. nd after use the slugs of type could be melted down and reused. As well as speeding up the typesetting process the Linotype machine also revolutionized print shops as they did not need to store vast and heavy cabinets of type. (Also see Monotype)

Lombardic and Unicals, These typographic styles would also broadly sit under the script classification. Although unlike many scripts the letters are usually disconnected from one another. The forms are derivative of early Roman cursive used in manuscripts. These letterforms can be characterized by bold wide strokes (emulating calligraphic broad-nibbed pens) and have more open round forms than blackletter styles.

Leg, the downward stroke of a letter contained within the main body. (for example in Kk R and Q.

Monotype, The Lanston Monotype Machine Company was first founded by Tolbert Lanston in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1887. Now Monotype Imaging Holdings, its predecessors and subsidiaries have been responsible for many developments in printing technology – in particular both the Monotype and Linotype machines, the first mechanical typesetters, and the 1970’s Lasercomp imagesetting system which led the film/photo-typesetting field (the technology is still used in a wide range of laser printers and imagesetting systems). Today Monotype continues to forge new ground with type technology for digital environments, Spark™ display solutions for devices, cloud-based subscription platforms, and new font distribution mechanisms.

Invented by Tolbert Lanston - The Monotype system cast hotmetal type from a keyboard. The two most significant differences from Linotype are:

  • The Monotype System is divided into two machines, the Monotype keyboard and the Monotype caster
  • The Monotype caster casts individual letters, which are assembled into lines by a typesetter.

A Monotype operator keys text onto a typewriter keyboard which is punched in a code onto a paper tape. The tape is transferred to a Monotype caster, which reads the tape and produces the physical sorts of type. (Also see Linotype)

Measure, is the width of a block of justified text or the length of each line of characters in a ragged paragraph.

Mastery, Technical skill and theoretical grasp of the subject.

Mechanistic - See Egyptian Slab
Modern - See Didone

Matrix or Matricies - See Punch Cutting

Math[EM]atics, Many of the typographic and spacing conventions we use in type is derived from the square. The Quad proportion has carried through from the Roman stonemasons, through punchcutting, and pantograph, hot-metal and photocomposition technologies, to the pixel. A Quad is the square of any type size. The em measurement is derived from quad. Em is a critical typographic measure because it changes in proportion to the size of type used. The em controls the space between characters (tracking is measured in 1000s of an em) and words, as well as the length of the em-dash (—)and em space. Half an em is an en. The en determines the width of the en-dash  (–) and en space. A word space is equal to an i which is often quarter of an em.
A thin space is usually 1/8th of an Em.

Neoclassic - See Didone

Old English - See Blackletter
Ornament - See Bats
Oblique - See italic

Old Style Serif, (sometimes called Garalde) Have noble, graceful, proportions and refined open letterforms. Key characteristics include: the axis of curved strokes is often inclined to the left, and the serifs at the tops of the letterforms are usually at oblique angles. Most Old Style serifs tend to have smoother rounder forms than the early humanist serifs (that also fall into this broad classification, largely because of improvement in the tools and technology used to make type). The letterforms have low contrast strokes and curvaceous organic brackets to the serifs.

Overshoot, Rounded shapes appear smaller than rectilinear ones because the shape tapers away. To create optically even sizes the rounded forms must overshoot the boundaries of flat shapes. Letter structures that start or finish with pointed apex or vertex should also overshoot. The sharper the point, the more dramatic the overshoot required.

Passionate Practice (noun)
Non service oriented. Self-initiated design outcomes and process, undertaken to deepen your understanding, hone your skills or for your own creative replenishment.

To Passionately Practise (verb)
The act of self-initiated experimentation and learning.

Professional practice,  Any service-oriented design transaction. This includes non-paid work and design competitions where the brief, design problem or questioning is set by someone other than yourself.

Posture, Just as people slouch and recline, stand to alert or lean inward, so do typefaces. Posture is a term that refers to the direction of a stroke and overall appearance of the type. At a basic level posture can be described in terms of a face being upright (Roman) with neutral posture, or inclined toward the right (italic) or oblique, or leaning left being backslanted. But posture can also refer to axis and positive or negative stresses on the letterforms.

Peverse, (see italian) peverse letterforms are those that subvert conventional weight distribution and contrast.

Proportion, is the critical relationship between elements in design. The effective use of mathematical proportion is often referred to as visual harmony, a relationship in which the elements of composition appear balanced in size and distribution.


Polychromatic Type, has multiple colours in a single character. First popularized for wooden display faces used in advertising of the 19th century - the multiple colours were achieved by over printing multiple impressions on the press. Above Jamie Clarke's Brim Narrow is a contemporary polycromatic face made for digital environments. It uses layering of multiple styles to add detail and depth as well as colour. BixaColor is an opentype web font which uses new technology to create characters with multiple colours.

Point, Point size and Pica,
Typographic measurement is most often expressed as units of Points
or Picas.
1 Pica = 12 Points
1 Pica = 1/6 of an inch
Point size is measured by the body of type. In terms of physical type the body is the metal area (or shank) the typeface sits upon. It is a fixed and tangible area. In terms of digital type the measure becomes more arbitrary, but is often measured from the top of the ascender to the bottom of a descender of a particular face. This means type faces with the same point size often appear optically different dependent on their x height.

Punchcut, Punchcutting is the craft of cutting letter punches in steel (this cutting process was undertaken by highly skilled metal workers and required precise tooling. Each raised steel punch was then struck into a softer commodity (often copper or brass) to create a matrix. Individual metal sorts of type were cast in hotmetal with the Matricies by a foundry (or later by mechanical means like Monotype and Linotype machines).

Phototypesetting uses a photographic process to compose type on a scroll of photographic paper.


Readability,  Legibility and readability are closely related, but not the same. The degree to which a typeface is legible is controlled by the face’s designer. While readability is controlled by the designer of the layout. Readability is primarily concerned with the reader experience and paths of navigation within a piece of text.

Rhythm, Visual rhythm is created by the repetition of elements. Rhythm creates a sense of movement, and can establish patterns, texture and paths of navigation to guide the reader. Rhythm has significant impact on reader experience.

Roman, In typographic terms roman describes upright, non-italic and non-script typefaces. Historically printed matter would be set either roman, italic, or script. (the styles would never be mixed). However with contemporary printed type the text will usually be set using roman (for the main body) paired with italic (used for emphasis).




Reverse Contrast, These display faces attract attention by being deliberately awkward and inverting the thin and thick strokes to create designs that are often described as freakish and perverse. Each is an exercise in novelty and expression. The misfit shapes are outcomes of purposeful subversion of optical rules and conventional type geometry. They are a celebration of peculiar intersections, curious stroke sequences and odd proportional relationships in letterforms. (I am a big fan of these typefaces and I think this M is an excellent example of the beauty found in unconventional shape grammar - the typeface is Manicotti designed by David Jonathan Ross).

Rasterizer, When a font is displayed on a screen, a rasterizer translates the outlines into pixels by activating & turning black when the centre of the pixel is within the outlines.

Sans Serif, This is a broad umbrella classification of all typefaces that are sans (without) serifs. Sans serif faces first appeared in the Nineteenth century (1816 saw the first sans serif printing type). Depending on your browser technology(!) this text is hopefully set in Museo Sans.

Stress, The direction a curved stroke distributes its weight is the stress. Stress is a derivative of the angle at which the stroke was made by a pen or analogue tool when drawn or cut by hand. Often uppercase and lowercase letters within a type system have different angles of stress.

Serif, In terms of anatomy, a serif is a small, subservient structural detail added as a visual stop to the beginning and end of the dominant strokes of a character. Serifs vary in shape and can be either bracketed or unbracketed (see bracketed serifs). In typographic classification, serif is a broad term that describes all faces with the structural detail... it is the shape and proportion of the anatomical detail that defines which more specific classification the typeface sits into.

Speculative, A position of abstract reasoning. Questioning on the discipline to seek advancement or deeper understanding. Not to be confused with doing design work for free to try and secure paid work in the future. Speculative reasoning and asking questions is good. Doing unpaid speculative design work is bad.

Slope, (another term relating to posture) The slope is the angle of inclination of the stems. Most italics slope to the right between 2 and 20 degrees. 7-9 degrees being average for true italics. Slope also relates to the lean of both formal and casual scripts.

Stem, The primary vertical stroke of a letterform.

Script, Script is another very wide classification and includes cursive, calligraphic, and hand-generated letterforms that can range in tone from formal to casual and traditional to contemporary. Often script characters have forms that connect letters. More formal scripts can be characterised by swashes, swoops and flourishes that embellish the forms. There is a contemporary trend toward script faces. I believe this is a reaction to our pixel-based world. People gravitate towards the human and expressive qualities of script.

Shape Grammar If we start to look at letterforms as a designer rather than a reader, we see the that alphabet is built using a set of prefabricated geometries, with capacity for disassembly and reuse. Each typeface has anatomy that repeats throughout different letters. These shapes form the DNA from which we flesh out cohesive typographic systems.

Space, Used in three senses within the pages of TypographJournal – the intergalactic (inky black night sky), negative (or white) area in layout and territory (new boundaries). In publishing and composition space is normally signified with a # symbol.

Shoulder, A curved stroke originating from a stem that usually tappers to avoid visual swelling where the curve and vertical lines meet.

Spine, The main curved stroke for a capital and lowercase s.

Slab Serif (also sometimes referred to as square serif) a classification that contains the sub categories of Clarendon and Egyptian Slab style serifs. Slab serifs were born during the Industrial Revolution for use in posters, billboards and advertising. Slab serif typefaces’ key characteristics are strong, square finishing strokes with minimal or no bracketing.

Stroke Refers both to the vertical or diagonal geometry of a letter, but also to the movement and or action of a pen when drawing letterforms in calligraphic methods. A stroke can be straight, curved or angled.

Saccades, an occular jerk movement our eye uses to search for word shape recognition when reading. The saccade occurs in the inter-line spacing (area between lines of text controlled by leading). It’s an underused word, but a task we perform each time we read.

Swash, flourish or extended stroke at the beginning or the end of the character.


Terminal, The end, or termination, of a stem or stroke with no serif. Style and approach to terminals vary pending type classification and the letterform or symbol.

Transitional Sans Serif,  Without any stats to support this claim, I would say this is the classification we contemporary audiences experience the most. Email communication or web text is often set in Arial; Helvetica and Univers we read in signage everyday; other more contemporary examples are used frequently in printed collateral and online. This style first appeared from the mid-twentieth century. Transitional Sans serifs evolved from the Grotesque Sans Serif faces. Transitional sans tend to have a more soft (rounded) appearance than the earlier grotesques. The Stroke contrast is typically quite uniform, and posture tends to be upright. Transitional Sans faces have a neutral personality. They are highly legible and the structural details ensure they work at a range of scales making these typefaces really versatile. Another characteristic that is common within this classification is curved strokes (like the c, e and s) ending vertically.

Typeface, A design collection of characters. Not to be confused with font. A font is what you use, and a typeface is what you see. It is the shape, style, design, and overall appearance of a collection of letterforms.

Typograph.Community, Awesome and curious creatives from many backgrounds including but not limited to; Academics, Advertising executives, Architects, Artists, Brand managers, Business development managers, Calligraphers, Ceramicists, Commercial printers, Design Strategists, Digital content developers, Exhibition designers, Font developers, Graffiti artists, Graphic designers, Industrial designers, Interior designers, Jewelers, Landscape Architects, Letterpress enthusiasts, Librarians, Linguists, Marketers, Photographers, Printmakers, Psychologists, Recent graduates, Sign painters, Students, Stylists, Teachers, Type designers, Typographers, UI designers, Urban designers, Wayfinding experts, Web design and developers,

Typographer, Not to be confused with type designer (although the two roles are often performed by the same practitioners). A typographer is concerned with the form and appearance of visual language and its readability (or the reader experience).

TypographHer (AKA Nicole Arnett Phillips is passionate about publishing design thinking for designers. With 16 years of professional experience in publication design, visual communication and art direction, Nicole now balances her professional practice with her publishing endeavours. She writes, designs and produces Typograph.Journal to educate, challenge and engage design audiences. Nicole also produces limited edition books and keeps a blog of interesting conversations, inspirations, processes and experimentation.

WTF is a 'TypeMaker'?! Not necessarily a typeface designer or font developer (although both of those roles would absolutely be covered by this term). A TypeMaker is anyone who creates custom letterforms including signpainters, letterers and calligraphers.

There can be a bit of snobbery in type circles between people who Develop fonts, Design type, Practice calligraphy and lettering, visual artists and illustrators who use letterforms for expression and the graphic designers who customize characters for branding. With the term TypeMaker I wanted to cut through that silo thinking and celebrate all the creatives that create letterforms.

Popularised in the 19th century as display type Tuscan typefaces usually have the underlying skeleton of slab serifs and pinch the slab to feature scalloped contours with, bi- and tri-furcated serifs. Tuscan style typefaces grab attention and are ideal for embellishment and decorative gestures.(As you can see in the small specimen above there is a lot of variance within the shape grammar of this type classification.

Transitional Serif, Another radical leap (this time by one of my typographic heroes, John Baskerville). This style first appeared in the mid 18th century. John Baskerville’s typographic contemporaries were shocked by the contrast and mechanical construction of these letterforms... they argued the letters would not only be unreadable but would also damage the eye! Advancements in paper and print technology enabled subtle strokes and finer lines to be reproduced, allowing for increased contrast, refined curves, subtle brackets and flat serifs. Other common characteristics of this classification are tall x-heights, open generous counters, and a more vertical stress to the letterforms.

Tittle (also commonly referred to as a jot or a dot). The small (usually) round mark that sits aloft the stem of the lowercase i and j.

Type High,  .918 of an inch. this is the measure of physical type sorts used in letterpress printing.


Vertex & Vertices,  (Also see Apex and Apices) Where angular strokes meet on a baseline is a vertex. W has one apex and two vertices; v has one vertex.

Voice, Used here both to describe a designer’s identity, aesthetic and point of view as well as the tone of a typeface.

Vector, a method of mathematically producing images (and type) so that the forms are represented in smooth lines rather than fixed bitmaps, allowing an image, to be rotated or proportionally scaled and represent without visual distortion or loss of quality.

Visual hierarchy, Used within the pages of TypographJournal to describe visual principles that are arranged, applied and acknowledged in a way that implies importance. The hierarchy influences the order in which the reader/viewer perceives or experiences what they see.

Weight, The heaviness of a typeface.
A bold style is of a heavier weight. Many type families have numeric systems that describe weight. (Some type families like Adrian Frutiger’s system for Univers also describe width using numbers). Museo Sans (used in Typograph.Journal) takes cues from the Univers weight system and assigns numerals to each style. The heavier the weight the larger the numeral.


Weight nodes. One approach to type construction that relies on a series of weight modules to define contrast and weight distribution. (also see contrast)


X height, The height of the main body of a lowercase letter.