A hand lettering style that relies heavily on contrasting weights in the horizontal and vertical strokes. Generally done with a brush or quill pen.

Cap height

The height from baseline to the top of uppercase letters in a font. This may or may not be the same as the height of ascenders.

Cap line

The imaginary line which represents the uppermost part of capital letters and some characters’ ascenders.


Capitals, or uppercase letters. ALL CAPS LOOK LIKE THIS. A relatively modern innovation. The Romans, Greeks, and Oriental peoples never distinguished capitals from small letters. All these earlier languages used two forms — a carefully drawn form of writing with separate signs on official documents and monuments and a less carefully drawn form of cursive (running) writing with roundish and often joined signs on less official documents, such as letters. During the Middle Ages a form of capital letters called uncials was developed. Uncials (from a Latin word “uncia” meaning «inch-high») were squarish in shape, with rounded strokes. They were used in Western Europe in handwritten books, side by side with small-letter cursive writing, used in daily life. After the Renaissance and the introduction of printing in Europe, two types of letters were distinguished: the majuscules, which were formed as an imitation of the ancient Latin characters, and the minuscules, which continued the tradition of the medieval cursive writing.

Carolingian minuscule

The most well known medieval minuscule script. It was developed in the 8–9th centuries under the influence of Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus) and named after him. In Carolingian writing the two separate alphabets appeared first, what we call now upper and lowercase. Word spacing and punctuation marks were used for the first time too. Carolingian minuscule was the background on which the Renaissance humanist minuscule of the 14–15th centuries was based.


An inverted circumflex. It is used on consonants and vowels in Slovak, Croatian, Czech, Lapp, Lithuanian and other scripts. It is increasingly used in new scripts for Native American languages. ISO character sets include a precomposed upper- and lowercase s and z with caron, while other combinations, no less frequent in normal text, must be built with the floating accent. Typographers know the caron also by its Czech name, hacek, pronounced “haa-check”.


One of the lower accents, used primarily in French, to soften the C. Also used under consonants in Catalan, Kurdish, Latvian, Portuguese, Rumanian, Turkish and other scripts.


A symbol in writing. A letter, punctuation mark, or figure.

Cheque line

От фр. assurer – страховать.
Типографская линейка из 5–6 параллельных тонких горизонтальных прямых или волнистых линий. Применяется для набора бланков и т.п. печатной продукции, где требуется подпись клиента. Подпись, выполненную поверх ассюре, трудно подделать.


A unit of measurement used to measure typefaces. It is equal to 12 Didot points, a slightly larger continental European counterpart to the American and British point.


A mark originally used in Greek on long vowels to indicate a rising-falling tone and in other languages to mark length, contraction or a particular vowel quality.

Cold composition

Composition not using cast metal type. Usually for output onto sensitized paper or film. Cold composition is also used to describe forms of “direct” or “strike-on” typesetting devices such as typewriters.


A grammatical marker descended from early scribal practice. It is also used in mathematics to indicate ratios and in linguistics as a mark of prolongation. The name ‘colon’ is from Greek.


The overall blackness of a page of text, that is, its average density. Besides, the blackness of a typeface when set in a block.


A grammatical marker, descended from early scribal practice. In German, and often in East European languages, the comma is used as an open quote. Throughout Europe, it is also used as a decimal point, where most North Americans expect a period. In North American usage, the comma separates thousands, while a space is preferred in Europe. Thus 10,000,000 = 10 000 000, but a number such as 10,001 is typographically ambiguous. In Europe it means ten and one one-thousandth; in North America, ten thousand and one.

Composite glyph

A glyph made up of references to other glyphs. In PostScript and TrueType fonts, accented glyphs can be defined as composite glyphs, with one reference to the base letter and another to the accent. Each reference to a component contains a glyph number and repositioning (either an offset from the component's original position, or a point on the component to match a point on the glyph being built up). It also may have a transformation matrix (for scaling, rotating, etc.).

Conic curve

A spline curve of second order. In general it's one of the three curves: a parabola, hyperbola or ellipse which one can obtain by intersecting a plane with a (double sided) cone.


A closed shape, part of an outline. In most fonts, the letters S, i and B have one, two and three contours respectively.


In the analysis of letterforms, this usually refers to the degree of contrast between thick and thin strokes of a given letter. In faces Gill Sans and Helvetica, there is no contrast. In faces such as Bell and Bodoni, the contrast is high.


The white space enclosed by a letterform, whether wholly enclosed, as in d or o, or partially, as in c or m.


A form of punch used to create the counters of a type-making punch.


A horizontal stroke connecting two stems as in A, H, or a simple stroke as in f and t.

Cubic curve

A mathematical curve representation, based on cubic equiations. Cubic Bezier curves are used throughout PostScript, including Type 1 fonts. TrueType uses quadratic curves, not cubic ones.


One of the two ancient Slavonic alphabets named after St. Cyril (Constantine the Philosopher). It was invented in the 9th century based on the Greek ecclesiastical majuscule script. There were several scribal Cyrillic hands: Ustav, Poluustav, Skoropis’, and Vyaz’. The first printed Cyrillic book was published in Krakow in 1491 by Schweipolt Feol (Feyl, Feyol), and its type was cut by Rudolf Borsdorf (Ludolf Borchdorp) of Braunschweig. Cyrillic alphabet was reformed by Tzar Peter I in 1708–10. As a result the Cyrillic letterforms became close to Roman ones. The Modern Byelorussian, Bulgarian, Macedonian, Russian, Serbian and Ukrainian alphabets were made-up based on the ancient Cyrillic script. In the 1920–30s alphabets of most former USSR peoples and Mongolia were created based on the Russian alphabet.