Font management has a unique and specific language all its own. Here is a sampling of terms you might encounter when working with FontAgent, Expo and Smasher in your design, creative and workflow projects. To view terminology about FontAgent servers and clients, click here.

ascender
An ascender is the part of characters that extend above the x-height line, such as the top of the lower-case d or b.

baseline

The imaginary line upon which characters appear to rest. In reality, the bottoms of curved letters like c, o, u, and s extend slightly below the baseline. Other characters like the lower-case g, j and p have descenders that extend below the baseline by significant amounts.

bold

A style of a font that is heavier than its regular, normal or roman style.

black

A style of a font that is heavier than bold. Synonyms include heavy and extra bold.

cache

As operating systems and applications run, they make copies of fonts and cache or store them in various folder locations. These font caches can become corrupt and fall out of sync with newly installed or modified versions of font files. When this happens, screen and printer output can appear incorrectly.

compressed

A compressed style of a font is one in which the width of each character in the font is less than its regular or normal style. In other words, the aspect ratio of the font appears to be more vertical, allowing you to fit more text on a line. Also known as condensed or narrow in some font families.

condensed

A condensed style of a font is one in which the width of each character in the font is less than its regular or normal style. In other words the aspect ratio of the font appears to be more vertical, allowing you to fit more text on a line. Also known as compressed or narrow in some font families.

descender

The part of a character that extends below the baseline of a font, such as the extensions of the lower-case p, g or j.

dfont

Same type of font format as a Mac TrueType font except the information is stored in the data fork instead of the resource fork. You will find dfont files in some of the system font folders in macOS.

family

A font family is a group of fonts of the same design. For example, the family Times contains Times-Plain, Times-Bold, Times-Italic, etc.

FOND

A Macintosh font resource that contains general information about a font and a collection of optional tables that define glyphs (letters, numbers, and symbols) and spacing (baseline, x-height, and kerning).

format

Font files are stored in various file formats. The macOS operating system supports five font formats—Mac Type 1 PostScript, Mac TrueType, Windows TrueType, dfont and OpenType. Windows supports Windows TrueType, OpenType and Windows Type 1 formats.

foundry

The foundry is the name of the organization that created or published the font. A font’s foundry often appears in the name of the font, such as Adobe Caslon Pro.

glyph

An individual letter, number, or symbol in a font’s character set. For example, G, 9, and @ are glyphs. The term character is often used as a synonym for glyph.

italic

Style of a font that is slanted from the font’s normal or regular style, though some fonts have only an italic style. Also known as slanted or oblique in some font families.

kerning

The amount of space between characters. Graphic designers sometimes adjust kerning to change how light or dense text appears or to make the text fit into a specific space. Fonts usually contain kerning pairs, which define how close specific letter combinations should appear when rendered.

leading

The amount of space between successive lines in a block or paragraph of text. Unlike kerning, leading is not part of a font’s metadata, but is instead specified and controlled by the application rendering the font.

license

A font license details the usage rights that purchasers of fonts must abide by when they license fonts from type designers and foundries.

light

A style of a font that is uses a thinner stroke weight than the font’s normal weight. Also known as thin style in some font families.

metadata

Information contained in font files that details metrics such as slant, weight and x-height—and descriptive information such as family name, foundry and copyright.

narrow

The style of a font in which the width of each character in the font is less than its regular or normal style. Therefore, the aspect ratio of the font is more vertical, allowing you to fit more text on a line. Also known as compressed or condensed in some font families.

normal

The base style of a font that is not italicized, bolded nor condensed. Also known as regular or roman in some font families.

oblique

An oblique style of a font is slanted from the font’s normal or regular style. Also known as slanted or oblique in some font families.

OpenType

OpenType is the most modern file format for fonts. An OpenType font can contain many more glyphs (characters) than older font file formats. They can also contain Type 1 PostScript for Mac and Windows as well as TrueType for Mac and Windows, making OpenType a powerful cross-platform format.

outline

Font outlines are the mathematical formulas, or Bezier curves, that describe the shape of each glyph, or character, in the font.

point size

The overall height of a font as rendered on a screen in print. There are 72.272 points in one inch.

preview

A font preview is a rendering of a font in its native typeface on your computer display that you use to compare and select fonts for use in your workflow.

printer font

A printer font is an outline font file, or, more accurately, a PostScript Type 1 file. These files are used to render the font on a printer, but not a computer display.

regular

The regular style of a font is not italicized, bolded nor condensed. Also known as roman or normal in some font families.

roman

The roman style of a font is not italicized, bolded nor condensed. Also known as regular or normal in some font families.

sans serif

A font design that does not include small lines or projections at the end of strokes in a character. Also known as grotesque style fonts. Examples of sans serif fonts including Helvetica, Arial and Futura.

screen font

A screen font is a collection of bitmap files used by PostScript Type 1 fonts to display the font on a computer display, but not on a printer.

serif

A font design that includes small lines or projections that finish strokes in a character. Also known as roman style fonts. Examples of serif fonts include Times Roman, Garamond and Palatino.

slanted

A slanted style of a font is slanted from the font’s normal or regular style. Also known as italic or oblique in some font families.

style

A style is a single font that describes a specific variant of a font family such as Myriad Semibold Italic or Arial Bold.

suitcase

A suitcase is a special folder containing collection of resource files used by PostScript Type 1 format fonts.

thin

A style of a font that is uses a lighter stroke weight than the font’s normal weight. Also known as “light” style in some font families.

TrueType

TrueType fonts use a single .ttf file to store data that represents fonts as mathematical outlines. Macintosh computers recognized both Mac and Windows TrueType fonts. Windows also supports TrueType Collection (.ttc) files, but Macs do not.

Type 1 PostScript

An old, but trusted font format that is no longer available for purchase from most font vendors. The information for a PostScript Type 1 font is spread through various files, making it easy to lose important information. Type 1 fonts are specific to Mac or Windows and cannot be used on both desktop OS platforms.

x-height

The x-height of a font is the vertical distance between the baseline of a font and the top of the lower-case-x glyph (as well as the u, v, w and z glyphs) expressed as a percentage of the overall height of the font. Therefore, a high x-height percentage means that the upper- and lower-case glyphs are closer in size.