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16 Different Elements of Typography

Typography is fascinating to me. The talent of designers to develop fonts that are both unique and even able to express an emotion is nothing short of incredible. But what makes up a letter? Diane Kelly Nuguid put together this infographic to provide insight into the 10 different parts of a letter in typography:

  1. Bar – the horizontal stroke in characters A, H, R, e, and f.
  2. Bowl – a curved stroke which creates a counter.
  3. Counter – the partially or fully enclosed space within a character.
  4. Descender – the part of a character that sometimes descends below the baseline, typically in a g, j, p, q, y and sometimes j.
  5. Ear – the small stroke that projects from the top of a lowercase g.
  6. Loop – the lower portion of the lowercase g.
  7. Serif – the projections extending off the main strokes of a character. Sans serif literally means ‘without’ Serif. Serif-based fonts have been known to help people read faster since the shape of the word is better defined.
  8. Shoulder – the curved stroke of the h, m and n.
  9. Stem – the main straight, vertical stroke in a letter (or diagonal when there are no verticals).
  10. Stroke – a straight or curved line that makes up the bars, arms, stems and bowls.

Believe it or not, his infographic doesn’t have every element defined, though! Here are 6 more that I found in this cool typography primer video:

  • Ascender – a portion of the font that ascends beyond the height of a character.
  • Baseline – the horizontal alignment of the base of the letters.
  • Kerning – the distance between letters in a word.
  • Line length – how many characters fit in a line before you return to the beginning.
  • Leading – the distance between the baseline of one line of text to the next.
  • x-height – the height of a typical character (excluding any ascender or descenders)


About Douglas Karr

Douglas Karr is the founder of The Marketing Technology Blog. Doug is the CMO of CircuPress and CEO of DK New Media, an agency specializing in assisting marketing technology companies with their inbound marketing - leveraging social media, blogging, search engine optimization, pay per click and public relations. Their clients include Angie's List, GoDaddy, Mindjet and many more. Douglas is also the author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies.

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