In the field of typography, we know the importance of typefaces, their fonts, and font families how a particular typeface can affect the brand identity of a company. It gets essential for graphic designers to learn about the nitty-gritty of typography. Let’s get down to the basics, dissect the letters, and understand how they help in distinguishing one typeface from another. This standard set of terms is called the anatomy of a type or typography.


Baseline – The invisible line where all characters sit and align themselves is the baseline.

X-Height – The height of lowercase letters of the same typeface. It is called x-height as the lower case x is considered for different typefaces.

Ascender – The part of the character extending above the x-height. The top stroke of ‘h.’

Descender – The part of the character descending below the baseline. The bottom stroke of ‘y.’

Stem – The primary vertical stroke of the character, like in the letter ‘E’ and the diagonal stroke in the letter ‘V.’

Bowl – The enclosed space created by a circular line, like in the letter ‘b’ and ‘e’, is called a bowl.

Leg – The bottom stroke of a letter, horizontal for the letter ‘L,’ diagonal for ‘K.’

Arm – The portion extending upwards or outwards, generally attached at one end and free on the other. The arm of the letter ‘E.’

Stroke –  The main vertical component of a letter. Like in ‘W’ or ‘K.’

Serif – The extra short line existing at the end of the stroke is serif. Serif is what divides a typeface into serifs and sans serifs.

Mean line – The line at the top of the x-height of the characters is the mean line. It falls at the top of characters like ‘h,’ ‘b.’ ‘d.’

Bracket – The line that connects the serif and the stroke is a bracket.

Shoulder – The curve that marks the beginning of the leg of a letter.

Loop – The enclosed or partially enclosed area below the baseline for many characters, like for ‘g.’

Cap-Height – The height of the capital letter, measured above the baseline.


Link – The line that connects the upper and lower bowl of a letter is called a link.

Learning about the anatomy of a type helps us in distinguishing and recognizing various typefaces and learn about the style of multiple typefaces. In the field of design, whether it is for designing interfaces or products, it gets crucial to learn about typography. The typeface that you introduce in your design should be in sync with the message you want to put out in the world.

Learn more about Typographic Classification.

Rajat Bagree

Rajat Bagree

An experienced Creative Director with a demonstrated history of working in the Design, Information Technology, and Services industry. He is skilled in User Experience, User Interface Design, Graphics, E-commerce, and all fields associated with technology.

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