Sound Smart. Talk About Type

By LaurenMarie

You want to sound smart don’t you? Of course! Everyone wants to sound smart.

Keep reading, because you’ll learn the secrets to wowing your friends with your new-found typography talents.

The Benefits

There are so many great reasons to pay attention to the small details in typography. Being able to identify the style of a terminal or the height of the ascender can greatly increase your chances of finding the perfect font. It’s also fun to explore and learn more about this vast sub-niche of graphic design. Plus, you sound like you know a lot when you’re able to talk about all these typographic details!

Serifs vs. Sans Serifs

Before we jump into the anatomy of type, it is important to mention the two major categories of typefaces, serifs and sans serifs. A serif typeface has a flourish on the end of its letters, while sans serifs do not. Sans serifs generally end abruptly with a squared off terminal (the end of the stroke of a letter), though sometimes it can be rounded. Times New Roman, Georgia and Garamond (pictured) are examples of serif faces. Arial, Helvetica and Verdana (pictured) are sans serif faces.

Serif vs. Sans Serif

I Love Typography gives an excellent, in-depth explanation of serifs, including their history and etymology. Check it out!

Baseline and X-height

The baseline of a typeface is the invisible line on which all the letters sit (or perhaps they stand, it has yet to be accurately identified). The x-height, also called the mean or waist line, is how tall the lowercase letters are. You can easily remember what the x-height is because it’s exactly what it sounds like; it is how tall the lowercase x is. The lowercase x is traditionally used because it has flat ends that touch the baseline and the mean line.

Varying X-Heights

The x-height of a typeface plays a big role in determining how tall a typeface appears. A font with a small x-height is going to look smaller than a font with a taller x-height, even when these fonts are at the same point size. Take the example below. All of the fonts are displayed at 16 points, but the x-heights vary greatly.

Wait, There’s More!

In the next few installments at Creative Curio, we’ll be discussing more about the anatomy of type, choosing the perfect typeface, adjusting type and fonts that every good designer should have in his or her arsenal of creativity. Hurry and subscribe to the feed so you don’t miss out on these upcoming articles!