CalArts: Funds. of Graphic Design-W2: 2.2 Words and Spacing

Now we’ve looked at typographic terminology to do with letterforms, let’s look at some of the terminology to do with words.

Here’s a word made up of single letterforms, and they look like they’re floating in space on the page,

but they’re not really floating in space, they’re aligned on an invisible line called a baseline.

The baseline falls at the bottom of the capital letters and it falls at the bottom of the main, central part of the lower case letters.

And you can see where a letter form like an x, for instance, really delineates that height of the lower case letters, and that in fact is called the x-height.

Most lowercase letters share a common x-height. And there’s other measurements that we look at as well. If you look at the height of a capital letter, that’s called the cap-height.

Now some letter forms have pieces that go above and below the x-height. 
When they go above the x-height, they’re called ascenders
and when they go below the x-height, they’re called descenders.

Roman letter forms normally come in two different types. There’s the capital letters or uppercase and then there’s the lowercase.

And the reason why these letter forms are called upper case and lower case, is because in the old days of metal type, the metal type would be kept in a type drawer or a type case.

And these cases would be stacked right next to the printing press. And the lower case letters would be kept in a case that was down below, and the upper case letters or capitals, would be kept in a case that is up above.

A lot of typography has to do with relationships of contrast between darks and lights. 
Whether that’s ink on a page or pixels on a screen. And as soon as you have relationships that rely on these negative and positive contrasts, you realize how important something like space is to typography.

And there’s various kinds of space in typography. So here you can see that the space between letters is called letter space, 
or sometimes that’s referred to as kerning, when you alter that space.

The space between words is called a word space

and if you alter both the letter spacing and the word spacing then that’s called tracking.

So let’s take a quick look at how the letter spacing and word spacing affects both look and feel of the type and also the legibility.

So, let’s change the tracking on these two words and see what happens. You can see if we make that very tight, then the words become very hard to read.

They start to collide ชน with each other. And on the other hand, if we increase the tracking and make the type very loose, you can see that there’s a lot of space between the letter forms, and that’s also going to make it seem very hard to read. You’re going to start to see individual letter forms instead of reading words.