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  1. Design & Illustration
  2. Typography
Design

Typography: The Anatomy of a Letter

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Learn the basics of typography in this quick video!

Typography: The Anatomy of a Letter

The more we communicate, the closer we become. Typography inspires us by reminding the world of a simpler time without connection. As designers and artists, we can carry that fascination into our work by studying the makeup of letters.

Start with the basics with this quick video below. Learn the anatomy of a letter.

Common Typography Terms

Familiarize yourself with these terms to get a better handle on typography.

Baseline

The invisible line letters rest on.

Baseline - Anatomy of a Letter

Stem

A single vertical stroke upwards to create letters like L or F. Connect one stem to another using a crossbar detail, like the letter H.

Stem and Crossbar - Anatomy of a Letter

Ascender/Descender

Letters with downward strokes that extend past the baseline have Descender strokes. Alternatively, if the stroke moves upward and away from the main body of the letter, we call that the Ascender stroke.

Ascender and Descender - Anatomy of a Letter

Upper/Lowercase Letters

Uppercase letters are capital letters. Lowercase letters are smaller ones. Use uppercase letters for names and places, and lowercase letters for casual settings and more readability.

Upper and Lowercase Letters

X-Height

For lowercase letters, the X-height is the main body of the letter.

X-height - Anatomy of a letter

Counters and Spine

Fully or partially closed spaces found in letters like O, A, and B. If the letter isn't fully closed, then it's an Open Counter.

Counter and Ear - Anatomy of a letter

Ear and Shoulder

An Ear is a decorative detail that pokes out from letters like g. A Shoulder is a bumped curve seen in letters like m and n.

Ear and Shoulder - Anatomy of a Letter

Serif vs. Sans Serif

Serif types feature extended stroke details also known as feet. These details are missing in Sans Serif styles.

Serif Vs Sans Serif Typefaces

Learn More About Typography

Typography is an art form every designer can admire. Continue exploring your interest in typography to build your skills over time.

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