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Brush Up On Your Font Vocabulary

design | resources by Shannon Noack on June 16, 2017 | 0 Comments

We are true typography nerds here at Snoack Studios and love all things type. We enjoy how different fonts have their own characteristics and how a design can be changed completely by changing the font, spacing, and color of the text. Even if the text isn’t the main element of a design, it still plays a large and integral part.

Typography has it’s own set of vocabulary words that many aren’t familiar with, so we thought we would have a mini vocabulary lesson today on the blog! Enjoy!

Serif and Sans Serif

Serif fonts have small finishing strokes on the end or tail of a character. Sans means without, so sans serif fonts have no serifs or finishing strokes. Serif fonts are usually considered best for a body of printed text, but sans serif fonts are considered best for body copy on a screen.


A swash is an embellishment or flourish on the end of a character to give it extra flair.


Kerning is the adjustment of space between letters to allow them to fit together in the most pleasing and legible manner.


Leading is the adjustment of space between lines to allow for best legibility and aesthetic appearance.

Drop Cap

A drop cap is a letter that has been enlarged to take up 2 or more lines at the beginning of a paragraph or body of text.


Rivers are distracting areas of white space through a paragraph that are often caused by too much space between words or using justified alignment.


A widow is one word or a short line at the end of a paragraph on it’s own line. It’s considered bad typography to do this and can be fixed by adjusting where lines above it break so the one line isn’t so short and uneven.

Points and Ems

These are units of measurement for type. Points are most commonly used today but ems can be used as well.

What other typography vocabulary words can you add? Please share in the comments below!


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