Font’s Anatomy

When talking graphic design you very frequently get into typography. Therefore, as a professional, you should be able to speak about typography in an educated manner. Bellow are a list of terminology that will help you communicate with clients and your team members.

Font Family V.S. Font Style

Font families refer to the design of the font. Arial, Times New Roman, and Helvetica are examples of Font Families. Font Styles refers to the variations within each family such as Narrow, Bold, and Italic.

Font Categories


Font Families are all categorized based on a few general features. This is a list of typical Categories

  • Serif- fonts that have lines extending from the main strokes of each character 
  • Sans Serif- SANS means WITHOUT in French. Sans Serif refers to fonts that do not have Serifs. 
  • Slab Serifs- Fonts that have thick Serifs 
  • Decorative- Fonts with ornate characters
  • Display- Fonts with really thick characters
  • Script- Fonts that are reminiscent to cursive handwriting   

Anatomy of a Font

  • Point Size- Actual size of the font: top of Ascender to bottom of Descender  
  • Ascender- The parts of the character that extends above the X-Height
  • Descender- The parts of the character that extends below the X-Height
  • X-Height- The main character body size
  • Base Line- The imaginary line that the text sits on, like imaginary lined paper.



The uniform spacing between each character. You can squish text together or elongate them by messing with the Tracking. Here is an example: HELLO,    H  E  L  L  O. Just be careful, characters that are spaced too far apart or too close together can become hard to read.



There are times where you want an uneven spacing between two characters, perhaps because you want to add emphasis between the connection or just for visual appeal. Whatever the reason, this alteration is referred to as Kerning. Kerntype is a web-game that helps you understand how Kerning works.

Leading/Line Spacing

Untitled-12Refers to the amount space places in between each line of text.

When there is too little leading the words get squished together and the text can become hard to read.

When there is too much leading then the readers eye may have difficulty connecting the end of one line of text to the beginning of the next line of text. The paragraph may become disjointed.

So you should be aware of the amount of leading between your lines of text. You can get creative and alter it, just do so with intent and consciously.


Happy writing!



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