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Š2008 Laura Woodhouse Typographic Design Martin Mendelsberg Summer 2008 Rocky Mountain College of Art & Design


CONTENTS LETTERFORM 7 DESIGN PARTS OF A 19 LETTER TYPEFACE 33 CLASSIFICATION


LOVE LETTERS This quick guide is intended for the young and aspiring graphic design student. But it is truly for anyone who loves letters. Basic terminology and examples are displayed in three easy-to-follow sections based on the various designs, shapes, and parts of the letter. All body copy used in this guide is set in Univers Condensed. Headlines and chapter titles are Univers Bold Condensed. All examples are set in Adobe Garamond Pro Regular, unless otherwise specified.


LETTERFORM DESIGN


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Cap Height

mean line

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The cap height of a typeface determines its point size. It is measured as the distance between the baseline to the top of the capital letter. The line that marks the top of lowercase letters that do not have ascenders. (Also called waist line).

X-height

The height of the body of the letterform. This is measured by the height of the lowercase x. Usually between 50-66% of the cap height.

Baseline

The line which all letters sit on. This a crucial element for aligning text with images or with other text.


Letterform Design

cap height

mean line

x-height

baseline

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CAPITALS lowercase small caps 0123456789 Non Lining Numbers

0123456789 Lining Numbers

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Letterform Design

Ligature Two or more letters joined together for practical or aesthetic reasons.

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CONTRAST The thickness or thinness of the strokes of a letter. Bauer Bodoni has high contrast; Univers has low contrast. For small text or reversed-out text, it is better to choose a low contrast typeface, then a high contrast one.

Univers

Bauer Bodoni 12


Letterform Design

WEIGHT

Univers Light Univers Roman Univers Bold Univers Black Univers Extra Black

The thickness of the strokes that determines the overall color of the typeface. All font families usually have Light, Medium, and Bold. The midweight may also be referred to as Roman, Normal, or Regular (rather than medium). Univers is one of the most diverse typefaces because it has so many different variations in weight.

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SERIF Serif fonts have small decorative strokes that are added to the end of a letter’s main strokes. Serifs improve readability by leading the eye along the line of type.

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Ee

Times New Roman Baskerville Bauer Bodoni Caslon


Letterform Design

Ee

sans serif Sans serif means “without serif.� These fonts usually have a low contrast design. They are very clean and simple and are used for headlines, as well as body copy.

Helvetica Futura Optima Gill Sans

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types of serifs Serif shapes and sizes can vary considerably depending on the different styles and designs of typefaces.

Cupped Serif Garamond

Hairline Serif Didot 16


Letterform Design

Rounded Serif American Typewriter

Wedge Serif Birch

Bracketed Serif Baskerville

Slab Serif Rockwell 17


parts of a letter


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Ascender

ascender

The upward vertical stem on some lowercase letters that extends above the x-height. Descender The portion of some lowercase letters that extends below the baseline.

descender

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Parts of a Letter

Arms arms

The horizontal stroke on a letter that does not connect to a stroke or stem at one or both ends. Serifs

serif

As discussed in the last section, a serifs are the decorative strokes that are added to the end of a letter’s main strokes.

brackets

bracket

The curved shapes that join horizontal and vertical strokes. 21


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Counter Tail Stem Leg

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The partially or fully enclosed negative space, or white space, of a letter. A finishing stroke at or below the baseline. The main (usually vertical) stroke of a letter. A lower, down sloping stroke of a letter.

Beak

A type of decorative stroke at the end of the arm of a letter.

Spine

The main left to right curving stroke usually found in the upper and lowercase S.

Bowl

The curved stroke of a letter that creates an enclosed space (counter).

Spur

The small form at the end of certain curved portions of a letter. Similar to, but smaller than, a serif or beak.


Parts of a Letter

counter counter stem leg tail

beak

spine

bowl

spur 23


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Garamond

Helvetica 24


Parts of a Letter

The importance of counters

The counters are the negative spaces inside certain letters. In well-designed typefaces, these spaces are just as important, if not more important, than the letters themselves. When looking at only the counters of a typeface, the unique shapes and designs become apparent. When selecting a typeface, it is good to keep the size and shape of counters in mind. A font with large counters (usually due to a large x-height) vastly improves readability when the type is set at a small scale. Helvetica is a good example, as it is one of the most widely used typefaces in the world.

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shoulder

ear

eye terminal link

loop

double story g

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Parts of a Letter

double-Story g

A lowercase g comprised of a closed bowl with an ear and a closed or partially closed loop connected to the bowl with a link.

Ear

A decorative flourish usually found on a lowercase g.

Link

The small curved stroke that connects the bowl and the loop in a double storey g.

Loop

The enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline.

Terminal

The finishing element to a stroke.

Shoulder

A curved portion of the stroke of a letter that connects to a straight stroke.

Eye

The enclosed negative space specific to a lowercase e.

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Apex Vertex Crossbar

Waist

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The peak of a triangle on an uppercase A. The downward juncture of two diagonal strokes found on a V or W. The horizontal stroke on a letter. Often used interchangeably with the term arm, but differs from an arm in that crossbars usually connect at both ends to other strokes, and are not intersected by a stem. The middle section of a letter that combines the upper lobe an lower lobe.


Parts of a Letter

apex

upper lobe waist lower lobe

crossbar

vertex

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hook

sheared terminal

lobe tail

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Parts of a Letter

Lobe

A rounded projecting stroke attached to the main structure of a letter.

hook

A curved, protruding stroke ending in a terminal. Usually found on a lowercase f.

Sheared Terminal tail

A type of terminal with a connecting element between the stem and the arm. A stroke or arc of a character starting from the main stroke or structure of a letterform and extending downward, with one end free.

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TYPEFACE CLASSIFICATION


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Humanist or old style Also called Garalde or Old Roman, these typefaces of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries followed classical calligraphy.

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Aa Sabon Garamond Centaur Bembo


Typeface Classification

Aa

transitional Transitional typefaces of the eighteenth century show greater contrast in strokes. Serifs are sharper and letterforms have a more vertical axis. John Baskerville started this period of transitional typefaces when he introduced new fonts.

Baskerville Americana Perpetua Electra

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modern Also known as Didone (named after Didot and Bodoni), this classification of typefaces features abrupt contrast between thin and thick strokes, with little or no bracketing. The axis of these letterforms is vertical. Typefaces designed by Giambattista Bodoni in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries are a classic example of modern typefaces.

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Aa Bodoni Didot Modern No. 20


Typeface Classification

Aa Clarendon Lublin Graph Officina Serif Rockwell

egyptian or slab serif Introduced in the nineteenth century for advertising, Egyptian fonts have heavy slablike serifs with very little bracketing. There are very little changes in stroke weight.

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Humanist sans serif Sans serif typefaces came about in the twentieth century. Strong calligraphic influence is apparent in contrast in stroke weight.

Aa Gill Sans Frutiger Goudy Sans Stone Sans

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Typeface Classification

Aa Helvetica Franklin Gothic Univers News Gothic

transitional sans serif Also known as Grotesque Sans Serif, these typefaces have an obvious contrast in stroke weights. There is a slight squared quality to the curves, and the lowercase g in many designs are single-story, meaning they consist only of a bowl and loop. Helvetica is the most common Transitional Sans Serif, and among the world’s most widely used typefaces.

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Geometric sans serif Hence the name, these typefaces are inspired by and created from geometric shapes. In Futura, the Os are perfectly round and peaks of the A and M are sharp triangles.

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Futura Avant Garde Avenir Bauhaus Kabel


Typeface Classification

Aa 41


REFERENCES Basic Typography: A Design Manual, James Craig. ©1990 Watson-Guptill Designing Type, Karen Cheng. ©2005 Yale University Press. Thinking With Type, Ellen Lupton. ©2004 Princeton Architectural Press. www.proximasoftware.com/fontexpert/terms www.adobe.com/type/topics/glossary www.typenow.net/glossary

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