Typography | Layman’s Layout Anatomy of Type

Inspired by the Font Shop’s Typography Glossary, here is the anatomy of my site’s wordmark. Click on the image to view it larger.

Layman's Layout Anatomy of Type

The anatomy of letters

The anatomy of type can be roughly broken down to the following sub-categories of strokes, counters and terminals


Strokes are the main lines of the letters that give the shape and relate most to handwriting, with the major strokes being stems and bars

  • The Ascender is the part of the letter that ascends above the Cap-height
  • The Axis is the mirror line for letters such as o which the bowl is arranged around
  • The Bar is a horizontal stroke
  • The Bowl is the enclosing holding the counter such as the stroke of the o and is mirrored on the axis
  • The Cross stroke if the horizontal bar on the lower case t and f
  • The Descender is the part of the letter that descends below the baseline
  • Rounded and pointed areas of the main stroke Overshoot the baseline or x-height so as to appear level optically such as in a or v
  • The Shoulder is the connection between stems in letters such as m and n
  • The Stem is the major vertical stroke
  • The Stroke is the major angled line of letters such as y or A


Counters are the white space in the letters

  • Aperature is an open counter that is not enclosed in a bowl
  • The Counter is the area missing inside the bowl of a letter such as the a and o with an e having and eye
  • Inkwells are areas cut out of the letter to allow ink to flow in printing, particularly in tight spots such as the shoulder of the m or in the point of the y


Terminals are the ends of the strokes. In sans-serif fonts these are normally blunt, but get interesting in serif fonts

  • Beaks are a serif ending to a horizontal stroke
  • Brackets are the curved inner part of the serif and appear on old style serifs, rather than slab-serifs
  • Finial is a tapered terminal
  • Serifs are the extra points or slabs at the ends of letters in serif faces
  • Spurs are he pointy ends to letters such as s and c
  • The Tail is the end of a descender such as in y, g, Q
  • The Terminal is the fat ending of the stroke such as at the end of a double-storey a
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: