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Glossary of Terms

Typography is a language all its own. When talking about fonts there are unique terms that are used to help describe the many different characteristics of fonts. We hope the terms below will be helpful to you.

Bitmap An organized group of dots or pixels that form an image. These dots are all consistent in size and in density. A bitmap image is mostly associated with graphic images and non-scalable graphic font formats.
Card A plug-in hardware media used to supply additional fonts for printers. Cards often have the dimensions of a deck of cards.
Cartridge A plug-in hardware media used to supply additional fonts for printers. Cartridges often have the dimensions of a deck of cards.
Character A single image from a set of interrelated images. In the case of fonts, it is a single character from a font set.
Character Cell An imaginary box which surrounds a single character. This box contains the dots or pixel references for every dot of a font character.
Characters Per Inch (CPI) The number of horizontal characters that will fit in one inch. Often referred to as "pitch".
Character Set A collection of characters existing in a given font.
Condensed Type Narrow version of a typeface.
Digitize The process of converting an image into a series of dots or pixels that can be stored, utilized, and manipulated by a computer.
Emulation The imitation of a computer system or device.
Extended Type Also called expanded type. A widened version of a typeface.
Family A family consists of four progressions (medium, bold, medium italic and bold italic) of the same style.
Font A font is a collection of graphic images designed for written communication. These images often correspond to a collection of letters, punctuation, numbers, and special characters.
Font Format The system by which font data is arranged for use.
Font Set A series of interrelated font characters which have been saved as one file. This set consists of characters of a particular typeface, point size, style, and stress.
Hinting Special instructions placed into a character's outline definition that cause the character's outline to be adjusted in a way that improves the character's perceived shape when rendered.
Italic The style of letters that have a forward slanting tilt.
Kerning The act of adjusting the spacing between two characters to compensate for awkward spacing caused by some type designs.
Lines Per Inch (LPI) The number of vertical lines of text that will fit in one inch.
Monospacing Also known as "fixed pitch" or non-proportional. Each cell width within the font is a consistent width. CPI (Characters Per Inch) is used to measure a monospaced font.
Orientation Refers to the direction that text will appear on a printed page. Portrait orientation is the format for most business letters (sometimes referred to as "tall"). Landscape orientation is the format for most line printer "green-bar" printouts (sometimes referred to as "wide").
Outline A font format which is variable in size because each character is defined by a mathematical equation or outline (example: PostScript™, TrueType™).
PCL A page description programming language developed by Hewlett-Packard. There are two popular versions of this format, PCL4 and PCL5. The latest release is PCL6.
Point Size The height of a font is measured in points (1/72") from the lowest part of a character to the highest part of a character.
PostScript™ A page description programming language developed by Adobe Systems. A PostScript™ file can be printed on any printer that has a PostScript™ interpreter built into its firmware, or displayed and printed by any software that utilizes a similar interpreter.
Posture The posture of a font can be Upright or Italic.
Progression A progression is a single type style, in a variety of point sizes (usually 6-36 point), one weight, one posture and two orientations (portrait and landscape).
Proportional The relative placement of and spacing between the characters of an entire font set. While the space between characters remains the same, the positioning of characters in relation to each other is based on the relative width of individual characters.
Rasterization The conversion of scalable (vector and outline) graphic images into images composed of patterns of dots or pixels.
Render The process of producing the final display of an image on a screen or printing device.
Roman A style of characters that incorporates thick and thin strokes and serifs.
Sans Serif/Serif Sans Serif fonts are fonts that do not have "tails" that extend from the tips of the characters. Serif fonts have "tails".
Scalable Font A term used to describe vector or outline format fonts. Scalable fonts are capable of being enlarged and reduced via software on a screen or printer.
Soft Font Used to describe the category of fonts stored on diskette or magnetic tape and accessed by software.
Style The style refers to the overall design of a font.
Typeface Used to describe a set of characters which exhibit a particular stylistic attitude. This is synonymous with font style.
Type Style Used to define the design appearance of a font set.
Weight The weight of a font refers to the heaviness of the type and is usually medium or bold.
WYSIWYG What You See Is What You Get. Refers to an accurate screen and printed representation of a font or graphic.
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