The Anatomy of Type

So, now we know the difference between a font and typeface, serif and script, it is time to go a little deeper into understanding the Anatomy of Type so you can both look super professional to clients and also understand what the hell other designers are talking about. 

anatomy of type gif
Yes, fellow designers, I agree…

Common Anatomy of Type Definitions


The line the font tracks or rests on. 


Any part of lowercase letters which drop below the baseline.


Any part of the character that goes above the x- height of the font.


This was originally the height of the  lowercase letter ‘x’ in traditional fonts. It refers to the height of lower case letters without their ascenders or descenders, but can vary within font. 

anatomy of type illustration


The tip of the character, the very end of the descender.


Any part that sticks out of the side of a letter, usually found in serif or script fonts. 


Fairly self explanatory. Often found in more cursive or decorative fonts. 

Closed Counter

The area within a letter, for example the inside of  an ‘O’

Cross Bars

The part of a letter which connects, such as the middle of an ‘H’ or ‘A’

These are all parts of the characters and letters which can be fun to play around with when creating designs and logos. Just be careful not to draw too much attention to the anatomy of the type, as it works best when used subtly. 

Further Resources

Check out Adobe’s Glossary of Type Terms for more on the anatomy of type. Canva also provide this wonderfully illustrated guide too.  You don’t need to know them all, but a basic understanding goes a long way when using fonts to their full potential.

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