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The terminology of typography

Below you can find an excerpt from a terminology collection I created as I familiarized myself with the field of typography and refreshed a few related concepts and terms in my languages.

Entry structure:




Definition (EN)


die Typografie


Typography is the art and technique of arranging type to make written language legible, readable and appealing when displayed. The arrangement of type involves selecting typefaces, point sizes, line lengths, line-spacing (leading), and letter-spacing (tracking), and adjusting the space between pairs of letters (kerning). The term typography is also applied to the style, arrangement, and appearance of the letters, numbers, and symbols created by the process. Type design is a closely related craft, sometimes considered part of typography; most typographers do not design typefaces, and some type designers do not consider themselves typographers. Typography also may be used as an ornamental and decorative device, unrelated to the communication of information.


die Schriftart


A typeface is the design of lettering that can include variations, such as extra bold, bold, regular, light, italic, condensed, extended, etc. Each of these variations of the typeface is a font. There are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly.

leading (line spacing)

der Zeilendurchschuss


In typography, leading is the space between adjacent lines of type.

tracking (letter spacing)

der Sperrsatz (Laufweite)


In typography, letter-spacing, also referred to as tracking by typographers, refers to an optically consistent degree of increase (or sometimes decrease) of space between letters to affect visual density in a line or block of text.


die Serife


In typography, a serif is a small line or stroke regularly attached to the end of a larger stroke in a letter or symbol within a particular font or family of fonts. A typeface or "font family" making use of serifs is called a serif typeface (or serifed typeface), and a typeface that does not include them is a sans-serif one. Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as "grotesque" (in German, grotesk) or "Gothic", and serif typefaces as "roman".


die Unterschneidung


In typography, kerning is the process of adjusting the spacing between characters in a proportional font, usually to achieve a visually pleasing result. Kerning adjusts the space between individual letter forms, while tracking (letter-spacing) adjusts spacing uniformly over a range of characters.


die Schriftlinie (Grundlinie)


In European and West Asian typography and penmanship, the baseline is the line upon which most letters "sit" and below which descenders extend.


die Glyphe

glif (glifa)

In typography, a glyph is an elemental symbol within an agreed set of symbols, intended to represent a readable character for the purposes of writing. Glyphs are unique marks that collectively add up to the spelling of a word or contribute to a specific meaning of what is written, with that meaning dependent on cultural and social usage.


die Ligatur

ligatúra (ikerbetű)

In writing and typography, a ligature occurs where two or more graphemes or letters are joined as a single glyph.


Die Unterlänge

lenyúló szár

In typography and handwriting, a descender is the portion of a letter that extends below the baseline of a font.


die Satzschrift (die Schriftart)


In metal typesetting, a font was a particular size, weight and style of a typeface. Each font was a matched set of type, one piece (called a "sort") for each glyph, and a typeface consisting of a range of fonts that shared an overall design. In modern usage, with the advent of digital typography, "font" is frequently synonymous with "typeface". Each style is in a separate "font file"—for instance, the typeface "Bulmer" may include the fonts "Bulmer roman", "Bulmer", "Bulmer bold" and "Bulmer extended"—but the term "font" might be applied either to one of these alone or to the whole typeface. In both traditional typesetting and modern usage, the word "font" refers to the delivery mechanism of the typeface design. In traditional typesetting, the font would be made from metal or wood. Today, the font is a digital file.


die Überfüllung (Beschnittzugabe)


In printing, bleed is printing that goes beyond the edge of where the sheet will be trimmed. In other words, the bleed is the area to be trimmed off. The bleed is the part on the side of a document that gives the printer a small amount of space to account for movement of the paper, and design inconsistencies. Artwork and background colors often extend into the bleed area. After trimming, the bleed ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.


der Spaltenzwischenraum


When two pages of content are combined next to each other (known as a two-page spread), the space between the two pages is known as the gutter.


der Rand


In typography, a margin is the area between the main content of a page and the page edges. The margin helps to define where a line of text begins and ends. When a page is justified the text is spread out to be flush with the left and right margins. When two pages of content are combined next to each other (known as a two-page spread), the space between the two pages is known as the gutter. (Any space between columns of text is a gutter.) The top and bottom margins of a page are also called "head" and "foot", respectively. The term "margin" can also be used to describe the edge of internal content, such as the right or left edge of a column of text.


der Durchschuss

szedőgépsor (nyomtatáskor lap széli információs terület)

Slugs, or slug lines, are also the name for incidental typeset lines of type that are intended either for the printer's or binder's benefit (such as a collation mark, a catch line, or a galley slug) or as advertising for the producer of the printed piece (such as a line of type showing the name of the printer, the printer's item number or job number, and the telephone number of the printer in order to make reorders simple).


die Spalte


In typography, a column is one or more vertical blocks of content positioned on a page, separated by gutters (vertical whitespace) or rules (thin lines, in this case vertical). Columns are used to break up large bodies of text that cannot fit in a single block of text on a page. Additionally, columns are used to improve page composition and readability. Newspapers very frequently use complex multi-column layouts to break up different stories and longer bodies of texts within a story.

drop cap (initial)

die Initiale


In a written or published work, an initial or drop cap is a letter at the beginning of a word, a chapter, or a paragraph that is larger than the rest of the text. The word is derived from the Latin initialis, which means standing at the beginning. An initial is often several lines in height and in older books or manuscripts, sometimes ornately decorated.


die Pica


The pica is a typographic unit of measure corresponding to approximately ​1⁄6 of an inch, or from ​1⁄68 to ​1⁄73 of a foot. One pica is further divided into 12 points. Publishing applications such as Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress represent pica measurements with whole-number picas left of a lower-case p, followed by the points number, for example: 5p6 represents 5 picas and 6 points, or 5​1⁄2 picas.

widows and orphans

das Hurenkind („Witwe“) der Schusterjunge („Waise“)

árvasor és fattyúsor

In typesetting, widows and orphans are lines at the beginning or end of a paragraph which are left dangling at the top or bottom of a page or column, separated from the rest of the paragraph. (The typographer's terms for the top and bottom of a page or column are head and foot.)


der Schnörkel (die Schwünge (Pl))

díszes karakter/betű

A swash is a typographical flourish, such as an exaggerated serif, terminal, tail, entry stroke, etc., on a glyph. The use of swash characters dates back to at least the 16th century, as they can be seen in Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi's La Operina, which is dated 1522. As with italic type in general, they were inspired by the conventions of period handwriting.


der Blocksatz


A common type of text alignment in print media is "justification", where the spaces between words and between glyphs or letters are stretched or compressed in order to align both the left and right ends of consecutive lines of text. When using justification, it is customary to treat the last line of a paragraph separately by simply left or right aligning it, depending on the language direction.




In typography, italic type is a cursive font based on a stylised form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, italics normally slant slightly to the right. Italics are a way to emphasise key points in a printed text, to identify many types of creative works, to cite foreign words or phrases, or, when quoting a speaker, a way to show which words they stressed.




In typography, emphasis is the strengthening of words in a text with a font in a different style from the rest of the text, to highlight them.



felső index

A superscript is a character (such as a number or letter) that is set slightly above the normal line of type. It is usually smaller than the rest of the text. Subscripts and superscripts are perhaps most often used in formulas, mathematical expressions, and specifications of chemical compounds and isotopes, but have many other uses as well.



alsó index

A subscript is a character (such as a number or letter) that is set slightly below the normal line of type. It is usually smaller than the rest of the text. Subscripts and superscripts are perhaps most often used in formulas, mathematical expressions, and specifications of chemical compounds and isotopes, but have many other uses as well.

small caps

das Kapitälchen


In typography, small caps (short for "small capitals") are lowercase characters typeset with glyphs that resemble uppercase letters (capitals) but reduced in height and weight, close to the surrounding lowercase (small) letters or text figures.


der Absatz


A paragraph contains all the sentences that deal with one set of ideas. You divide your text into paragraphs to show the reader when one set of ideas has ended and another has begun. A paragraph gives one main idea and all the examples or the smaller ideas that explain it. The main idea is sometimes called the theme. The theme of a paragraph is given in the topic sentence. This is usually the first sentence of the paragraph. The topic sentence tells your reader what the paragraph is about and what your idea is.


der Charakter


In computer and machine-based telecommunications terminology, a character is a unit of information that roughly corresponds to a grapheme, grapheme-like unit, or symbol, such as in an alphabet or syllabary in the written form of a natural language. Examples of characters include letters, numerical digits, common punctuation marks (such as "." or "-"), and whitespace.


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