Type Basics

Parts of the Letterform

Over the centuries, a nomenclature has evolved that identifies the various components of individual letterforms. By learning this vocabulary, designers and typographers can develop a greater understanding and sensitivity to the visual harmony and complexity of the alphabet.

The following list identifies the major components of letterform construction. In medieval times, horizontal guidelines were drawn to contain and align each line of lettering. Today, letterforms and their parts are drawn on imaginary guidelines to bring uniformity to typography.

Unity of Design in the Type Font

Tremendous diversity of form exists in the typographic font. Twenty-six capitals, twenty-six lowercase letters, ten numerals, punctuation, and other graphic elements must be integrated into a system that can be successfully combined into innumerable words.

Letterform combinations from the Times Roman Bold font demonstrate visual similarities that bring wholeness to typography. Letterforms share similar parts. A repetition of curves, verticals, horizontals, and serifs are combined to bring variety and unity to typographic designs using this typeface. All well-designed fonts of type display this principle of repetition with the variety that is found in Times Roman Bold.

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