Typography Primer


My main hobby growing up, when I wasn't getting into trouble, was drawing. I even took a couple years of drafting courses while in High School and loved it. It may explain why I often have articles or posts on graphics, Illustrator, illustrations and other design topics.

Though I'm not able to reproduce or create great designs on my own, I do believe I have a taste for it. I digress! Here's a cool little video on typography… many people don't know all the work that goes into font design and how important a role that fonts can play in your messaging.

One note: This is a great video for explaining all the properties of a font, but I don't really like the fonts they use in the video. Wanted to share it with you anyways! That way when you want to explain to your designer that you want more space between letters, you can speak their language and say, “Can we try increasing the kerning?”

Some verbiage of the characteristics of Typography:

  • Line length – how many characters fit in a line before you return to the beginning.
  • Leading – the distance between the baseline of one line of text to the next.
  • Kerning – the distance between letters in a word.
  • Stem – the ‘planted' portion of the character that the rest of the letter is written from.
  • Baseline – the horizontal alignment of the base of the letters.
  • Ascender – a portion of the font that ascends beyond the height of a character.
  • Descender – a portion of the font that descends beyond the baseline.
  • Counter – the white space enclosed by the letterform.
  • Serif – the design at each of the terminations of a character (sans serif means no design)
  • x-height – the height of a typical character (excluding any ascender or descenders)

My apologies to the professionals out there who do this for a living. I just wanted to give a primer on fonts and typography to the average Marketer. Feel free to dial in with your advice and corrections on my simple descriptions.


  1. 1

    Nice introduction for beginners. The definition you’ve used for “counter” might be a little confusing. The best short definition I’ve heard is ?the white space enclosed by the letterform.?

  2. 3

    Oh my gosh! I had no idea so much went into designing a font. I really like the new font Microsoft uses in Office 2007. I used it for a while, and then bounced back to Office 2003 and I could not stand it!

  3. 4

    Yea I agree with Thore, i thought it was somthing simple. I had no idea it was so much work. I guess its just one of those things we all take for granted. Thanks for the info.
    Next time I install a font i will be sure to take a moment and appreciate the work that went into creating it.

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