Type Basics and terminology for beginners

Since type is measured and described in a language unique to the printed word, basic typographical terms need to be recognised and understood.

Typeface: the design of a single set of letterforms, numerals and punctuation marks together with consistent visual links. Designs of types such as Arial or Palantino are identified by name.


Examples of a selection of typefaces
Examples of a selection of typefaces

Type style: Modifications in a typeface that create design variety while maintaining the visual character of the typeface. These include variations in weight (light, medium, book, bold, heavy, and black), width (condensed or extended) or angle (italic or oblique vs roman or upright).

Open Sans style options
Open Sans style options

Type family: A range of style variations based on a single typeface. Style attributes of type families can contain many modifications but will always retain a distinct visual continuity.

Type family example

Type font: A complete set of letterforms (uppercase and lowercase), numerals, and punctuation marks in a particular typeface that allows for typesetting by keystroke on a computer or other means of typographic composition.


letter-form.jpgLetterform: The particular style and form of each letter in an alphabet.


Character: Individual letterforms, numerals, punctuation marks, or other units that are part of a font.

Uppercase: The capital or larger letters of a type font (A, B, C, etc.)

Lowercase: Smaller letters, as opposed to capital letters (a, b, c, etc.).

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