Sentry Page Protection

Elements of letters


Below are some of the general terms for different parts of letters. Terminology can vary depending on the style of writing. The following descriptions are used primarily in typography, lettering, and calligraphy. It is important to know these definitions so that you can experiment with forms and create beautiful lettering of your own.


  • ascender—any stroke extending above the waistline

  • ascender line—an invisible line which capital letters extend to

  • baseline—an invisible line on which the majority of letters rest

  • bowl—the curved shape that encloses the round part of a letter

  • counter—the space within a fully or partially enclosed letter

  • cross stroke—the horizontal stroke that crosses the letter’s stem

  • descender—the elongated part of a letter that extends below the baseline

  • descender line—an invisible line which descender letters extend to

  • entrance stroke—a hairline lead-in stroke with which the letter begins

  • exit stroke—the hairline stroke with which the letter ends

  • flourish—curved or decorative elements added to letters or surrounding them that enhances the letter’s basic form

  • hairline—the skinniest stroke found in the letter form

  • ligature—two or more letters combining to form one character

  • majuscule—an uppercase letter

  • minuscule—a lowercase letter

  • overshoot—the amount to which a letter extends higher than the x-height or lower than the baseline

  • shoulder—the connecting stroke (often curved) that extends from the stem

  • stem—the primary vertical stroke within the letter

  • swash—similar to the flourish, the exaggerated added decorative element extending off certain letters, usually endforms and “t”s

  • terminal—either end of any stroke—straight, diagonal, or curved

  • waistline—the invisible line running across the top of lowercase letters (also called the median)

  • weight—the amount of thickness and size of a letter

  • x-height—the amount of space between the waistline and baseline


Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out