Crash Course: Anatomy of type I

A lot of what I’m most inclined to write about requires some basic knowledge about terms that are used to describe different typographic elements. This is the first of a few posts about typography basics and what I feel like everyone should know in an easy-to-understand, non-assuming kind of way.

Cap height: the length of a capital letter of a typeface above the baseline.

Baseline: the invisible bottom line upon which most letters rest.

Mean line: sometimes referred to as “midline” is half the distance from baseline to cap height (depending on the design of the font itself, this may or may not be the same as the x-height).

X-Height: the difference between the baseline and the mean line in text.

Ascender: portion of a letter that extends above the meanline (see image).

Descender: portion of a letter that extends below the baseline (see image).