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For this chapter, I'd like to take a step back and talk about some of the conventions and terminology involved with working with type. Typography, and graphic design in general, necessarily comes with a lot of jargon, and I am going to try and simplify things as much as possible, but it is, to some extent, unavoidable. So let's take a look at this very familiar looking diagram of the principal parts of letters. I'm sure you've seen things like this before. You may have even seen this particular one before.
These are the main parts of the letters, and I will be referring to most of these as we go throughout this course, so it's important that you know what it is I'm referring to. It's all fairly self-explanatory; pretty common sensical. We have these implied lines on our type. So beginning with the baseline; the baseline is the implied line upon which the type sits, and when we're working with bodies of text, we have an option to align our baselines across columns using this thing called a baseline grid, where we have a grid at a specified increment, and we make our baselines align to that grid.
Next up, the X-height. The X-Height is synonymous with the height of the lowercase letters, and an important concept is that not all typefaces have the same X-height. The relative height of the X-height, relative to the caps, can vary from one typeface to another. As a general rule, those typefaces that have higher X-heights are considered to be more readable. Next up we have the cap height, which as its name implies, marks the flat tops of the capital letters.
Interestingly, you'll notice that the ascender height for most typefaces is actually higher than the cap height, the ascenders being those portions of the lowercase letters that go above the X-height, and conversely, the descenders being those parts of the lowercase letters that go beneath the baseline. This particular typeface that we are looking at is a serif typeface, and it exhibits the following characteristics: it has bracketed serifs, and it shows a transition between the thin parts and the thick parts of the stroke.
That is one of the characteristics of this particular typeface, and those characteristics will vary from typeface to typeface. Now, just in terms of terminology, if we want to be entirely accurate, some might say pedantic, when we use the word typeface, we are talking about a typeface family. So if I talk about Helvetica, that's a typeface. If I talk about Helvetica 7 point, that is a font.
That said, myself, and just about everybody else, mixes up these two terms, and I am sure if I haven't already, I am going to mix up those two terms. Feel free to correct me, but if we want to be pedantic about it, that is the distinction between the terminology typeface, and font. I've mentioned this is a serif typeface. In the next movie, we are going to look at examples of serif typefaces, and how they differ from sans serif typefaces.
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