3

I teach introductory typography to students studying graphic design.

While constructing a list of design factors that affect the appearance, readability, and legibility of a typographic letterform, symbol, glyph, etc.; I hit a wall.

I am looking for the collective term category/group name for the styles whose letterforms can be differentiated by the presence or absence of a design trait — serif, sans serif.

The definitions of each are well documented:

In typography, serifs are semi-structural details on the ends of some of the strokes that make up letters and symbols. A typeface that has serifs is called a serif typeface (or seriffed typeface). A typeface without serifs is called sans-serif, from the French sans, meaning “without”. Some typography sources refer to sans-serif typefaces as “grotesque” (in German “grotesk”) or “Gothic”, and serif types as “Roman”.

Here's the list I prepared to meet my deadline. I had to go with stroke. Can I do any better for my revision?

Here are factors that affect ease of reading.

  • case: upper & lower case mix is more readable than all caps
  • x-height: larger is more readable than smaller
  • leading: more is more readable than solid
  • line length: shorter (10-12 words) are more easily readable than longer
  • alignment: ragged-right is more readable than justified
  • weight: medium is more readable than light or bold
  • measure: normal is more readable than condensed or expanded
  • margins: moderate is more readable than tight
  • contrast: black (dark) on yellow (light) background is more readable than others
  • substrate: smooth backgrounds are more readable than textured ones
  • stroke: many agree that serifs are more readable than sans serifs
6
1

Anatomy:

A study of the structure or internal workings of something.

(Oxford Dictionary)

This would seem to be the most appropriate word to use.

Stroke is used for a particular typographic detail, specifically the main vertical diagonal of a letter, so should not be used as the generic term for the letter elements.

Anatomy is used by a number of resources to describe the elements of letterforms.

Typedia - Anatomy of a Typeface

Fonts.com - Anatomy of a Character

Visme - A Visual Guide to the Anatomy of Typography

1
  • I was/am looking for a specific (not generic) term inclusive of both. You misunderstood my requirement. Strokes have a beginning and an end. As such, I require a term inclusive to the ends formed with any of a variety or none at all.
    – Stan
    Jun 15 '18 at 21:30
1

In typography, any stem or stroke which does not end in a serif is called a terminal. There are a number of terminal varieties, just as there are different varieties of serifs. The differentiating term for the two possible outcomes is stem/stroke ending.

See: Typography Deconstructed

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.