Lately I’ve catch myself writing more and more about Typography, and the great thing is that readers are getting engaged in this subject, everybody is posting comments, ideas and suggestions. Thanks for doing it and feel free to keep on writing.

In my last post; More typography, anatomy of a typeface we learn some of the parts and proper terms of the basic typefaces. Today we will see more of the “complex” anatomy of typefaces.


Ear – A small stroke projecting from the upper right bowl of some lowercase g’s.




Finial – A tapered or curved end.




Hairline – The thin strokes of a serif typeface.




Ligature – Two or more letters are joined together to form one glyph.




Link – A stroke that connects the top and bottom bowls of lowercase double-story g’s.


Understanding the anatomy of a font can be useful, particularly when a designer is trying to put a name to an unidentified typeface or manage many different fonts.


Loop – The enclosed or partially enclosed counter below the baseline of a double-story g.




Lowercase – The smaller form of letters in a typeface.




Serif – “Feet” or non-structural details at the ends of some strokes.




Shoulder – A curved stroke originating from a stem.


Small Caps


Small caps – Uppercase characters that appear as a smaller size than the capital height of a typeface. Short for “small capitals”.

Many graphic designers will use a wide range of fonts without fully appreciating the different aspects that make them up. Understanding the anatomy of a font can make it easier to distinguish between different, but similar looking fonts. You may also find yourself making more discerning font choices.



Spine – The main curved stroke for a capital and lowercase s.




Spur – A small projection from a curved stroke.




Stem – Primary vertical stroke.




Tail – A descending stroke, often decorative.




Terminal – The end of a stroke that lacks a serif.


It isn’t necessary to commit the entire list to memory, but familiarizing yourself with this terminology will make it easier to communicate about typefaces and their characteristics. It will also help educate your eye to recognize the underlying structure of various designs and the differences among them.



Uppercase – A letter or group of letters of the size and form generally used to begin sentences and proper nouns. Also known as “capital letters”.


x-height – The height of the main body of a lowercase letter.


What other parts of a typeface do you know? How knowing the parts of a typeface helped you in your designs?

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