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Forgive any naivety. I have come from SO to SE to ask a question.

I am looking for a font, where the hole in a character ie O, A, P, Q. Can be used to insert an image. I do not need a recommendation for a font. But what I am asking for is the word used to explain this area. Can someone please provide me with the specific word that explains the whitespace within these particular letters.

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    You’re right: there is a specific word for this. I’ll have to look it up.
    – tchrist
    Jan 4, 2014 at 18:45
  • I'm sure I have read this on stumble upon/ a Christmas cracker/ a penguin bar. Just can't track it down. Jan 4, 2014 at 18:46

2 Answers 2

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In typography, anything that isn't ink is referred to as whitespace. An area of whitespace that is either partially or entirely enclosed by a letter, whether uppercase or lowercase, is typically called a counter. However, there is an exception to this: in the lowercase letter "e," the whitespace is also referred to as an "eye" (as per its usual shape).

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    If I recall correctly, the reason it’s called a counter has to do with how the original type was carved out of metal. Somewhere around here I have Bringhurst’s revision to Warren Chappel’s A Short History of the Printed Word. Also, I’m not sure that you can use the indefinite article “a” for whitespace: it seems like a mass noun.
    – tchrist
    Jan 4, 2014 at 18:55
  • @tchrist who's being schooled? Is it me? Is it true that uppercase exists because of the days of print where capital letters were kept at the top of the case. Not being facetious, genuine question. Jan 4, 2014 at 19:01
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    Fair enough—I've changed "a whitespace" to "an area of whitespace"; otherwise, you are assigning a mass noun to an discretized noun, which is also awkward.
    – aeismail
    Jan 4, 2014 at 19:01
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    @TheHumbleRat: That should probably be asked as a separate question, but it looks like the answer may very well be "yes."
    – aeismail
    Jan 4, 2014 at 19:03
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    @TheHumbleRat Yes, that’s why. I believe there’s a question here on that very thing. BTW, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, the book I mention above is highly recommended. Also The Elements of Typographic Style.
    – tchrist
    Jan 4, 2014 at 19:06
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The enclosed or partially enclosed whitespace in a character is usually called a counter. Examples of characters with a counter include C, e, S and H. The round or curved enclosed portion of letters like D, g, p and o can also be called a bowl.

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