CalArts: Funds. of Graphic Design-W2: 2.1 The Anatomy of Letters

In order to learn how to work with typography, you’re first of all going to need to learn how to talk about typography. You’re going to need to know some typographic terminology or what you might call the lexicon of letters. That’s going to give you a shared vocabulary with other designers, but it’s also going to let you look at letter forms in typography and understand all their intricacies and how they work.

So let’s start out by looking at the simplest building block of typography.

The single letter.

So lets look at the letter a.

Letter forms are constructed of strokes so if we look at our letter a for instance, here we can see that the letter form is constructed of two strokes.

And this construction by stroke. Really goes back to when letter forms were drawn by a pen or a brush. So they would have individual strokes drawn by hand to make up the letter form.

Letter forms have their own specific terminology to describe the various different parts of each letter. So here we can see some different parts of the letter form that make up the anatomy of the letter a.

So hear you can see the two strokes of our letter form.

And you can see the vertical stroke is called the stem,
and this holds a lot of the weight and the stress of the letter form.

And then the other part of the letter form, the other stroke, is called the bowl, where it’s round and curved.

The end of the letter form is called the terminal. And this area can be truncated ตัด กุด, cut perpendicular ตัดตั้งฉาก or diagonally ตัดขวาง or have a rounder, more bowl shape.

The space that’s trapped inside a letter form is called the counterspace
And this can be space that is entirely trapped or space that is partially trapped.

Where the end of the letter form trails off is known as a spur.

And obviously the ends of the letters can also be a place where might exist.

A lot of typographic terms are based on the human body. And that’s probably because letter forms were drawn on humanous proportions based either on proportions of the human figure, or drawn showing evidence of human hand.

So let’s look at some of those terms.

Here, for instance, we can see a group of terms that relate to the human body, but also relate to letterforms. So here you can see the capital letter R has a shoulder, but it also has a leg that sticks out.

And these elements are named this way, because they look like these parts of the human body.

The small appendage on the upper part of the g is called an ear.

At the bottom of the leg of the k you can see it has a foot, and sticking up in the air above that you can see there’s the arm.

And here you can see the negative space, the counter space, that’s trapped inside the letter e is called the eye.

And the diagonal เส้นทะแยงมุม holding a lot of the weight and stress of the letter s is called the spine.