A reference mark, used chiefly with footnotes. In European typography, it is also a sign of mortality, used to mark the year of death or the names of deceased persons, and in lexicography to mark obsolete forms. Also called obelisk or long cross.


Standard fonts include, at minimum: an em dash ( — ), an en dash (–) and hyphen (-). A figure dash and three-quarter em dash are often included as well, and a one-third em dash more rarely.

Decorative style

A modifying face used for decoration. There are many kinds of decorative styles: modifying contour (Outline, Inline, Shadow), negative (Cameo), textured, swashed and so on. Sometimes they are separate, not included into type family. Used for headlines and display matters.

Demi bold

A weight of a type, intermediate between Regular and Bold, or between Medium and Bold.


Part of a lowercase letter projecting below the baseline.

Descender line

The lowest imaginary line that a character’s descender extends to, like the line beneath the lowercase ‘j’ and ‘y.’

Design axis

The concept used in multiple master and GX variations technology, for a typographic parameter that can be varied — either by typing a value directly or by using a slider control. Common design axes are weight (from light to bold), width (from condensed to expanded) and optical size (from, say, 6pt to display).


Ancillary mark added to a letter to distinguish it, stress it or change its pronunciation. Eg. ç, à, ò, é, Å.


An old name for type size of ~4 points (~1,41 mm).


An accent used to separate the pronunciation of two consecutive vowels. Similar to the umlaut.

Didot point

Unit of type measurement in Europe (except Britain); 1 Didot point = 0. 3759 mm.

Digital font

Type stored as mathematical formulae in digital form. This replaced photographic font masters from the late 1960s onwards.


A compound written symbol consisted of two characters. Used to mark phoneme and its variants. Examples: Polish CZ or English SH.


Typographical characters that have no apparent relation to an alphabet. Many dingbats are pictograms — tiny pictures of telephones, skiers, airplanes, churches, and the like, used in the travel industry. Others are more abstract. Also typefaces that consist entirely of symbol characters such as pictures, decorations, arrows and bullets.

Display typefaces

General term for type set larger than surrounding text as in headings or advertisements. Usually 14-point or larger.

Dot accent

One of the upper (Overdot) or lower (Underdot) diacritics. Overdot is used in Lithuanian, Maltese, Polish, Turkish and other scripts, and underdot is used in Vietnamese as one of the four tone-marks and in other alphabets.

Dot leader

A row of evenly spaced periods or midpoints, often used by typographers to link flush-left text with flush-right numerals in a table of contents or similar context.

Dot, Pixel

1. Small round character that can be used as a period, bullet or accent mark, …
2. The smallest element of a printed page.

Double rule

Two separate lines on one body added to a page for emphasis or decoration.

Double storey

Seen in the lower case “g” with the closed tail and lower case upright finial “a”.

Drop cap

A large initial capital in a paragraph that extends through several lines and is aligned with the top of the first line. This method is used to indicate the start of a new section of a text, such as a chapter.


The trace of a writing pen; the sequence of writing of character elements.

Dutch Old Style Serif

The faces were created mainly in Netherlands in the the 17th century based on the Garaldes lettershapes. Early in the 17th century the Elzevir family at Leyden and Amsterdam became major international publishers. Their best types, designed by Christopher van Dyck, are a refinement of Garamond. Later or Baroque old style type generally has more contrast, with a somewhat variable axis, and more slope of italic. Also it has narrow proportion and large x-height.