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A Glossary of Typographic Terms and Usage

This typographic glossary is devoted to correct typographic terminology.To some, many of these terms might appear so basic that they don’t even need mentioning, but even at the Michigan Avenue ad agency where I worked there was very often confusion over such terms. What follows is a list of terms and their proper usage.

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Kernmaster’s Weblog


KERNING Let’s start with one of the very most basic terms — one from which we derive our name: kerning. Kerning refers to the spacing between individual letter pairs. We have found it very often confused with “tracking,” which is our next term.Since this is a term that is near to our heart (and to the focus of this web site), for more information on how to best adjust kerning in desktop applications, see KERNING
TRACKING Tracking refers to the letter space that is applied to groups of letters, usually at least a full word, but it can often be used on a full line, full paragraph, or even on the full body of text. The term is often confused with kerning.
LEADING Leading refers to the vertical space between lines. The term goes back to the old days of setting type with hot metal letters. A bead of lead was laid between lines to create line spacing.
UPPER CASE Capital letters. The term comes from where the capital letters used to be stored: in the UPPER case.
LOWER CASE Noncapital letters. The term comes from where the lower-case letters used to be stored: in the LOWER case.

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