Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Anatomy of Letterforms

We're no strangers to love. You know the rules, and so do I.
And now you're no longer a stranger to the rules of letterforms!

When you get right down to it, typography is all about the letter and the unique characteristics of each one. This shows you the very basics for these forms, but here's a little more detail:
Baseline - imaginary line where the base of capital letters rest
Meanline - imaginary line that dictates the height of the body of lowercase letters
Capline - imaginary line where the top of capital letters reach
Ascender - stroke of lowercase above the meanline
X-height - space between baseline and meanline
Descender - stoke of a lowercase that goes below the baseline

"oh no she didn't!"
Yup. I did.
images © Kelci Stephenson 2011


  1. Is there a name for the imaginary line for where the tails end?

  2. No, I don't believe so. Tails vary depending on the font type - they might stay above the baseline or drop below it. If the tail is on a lowercase letter and goes below the baseline, it's also a descender.

    Now that I have some hindsight, I've edited in order to add more description about Ascenders, Descenders, and X-height.

  3. So if I want to measure the full vertical height that a given font might take up... I'm fresh out of luck?