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Free Typography Basics Cheatsheet: Anatomy, Classification & Special Terms

Lesley Yarbrough May 25, 2021 · 1 min read
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What is the difference between an ascender and a shoulder? A tail and a loop? Kerning and tracking? Remembering every important typography term can be challenging, so we’ve summarized some essential principles in this 2-page PDF cheatsheet.

Typography Basics Cheatsheet
Remember key typography concepts
Typography terms made simple.

Grab this handy cheatsheet summarizing some of the most important typography terms.

Download the PDF

The PDF file includes the following sections:

  • Letter Anatomy: Basic overview of the different components of a glyph
  • Special Letters & Symbols: Learn to identify alternates, double story glyphs, alternates, and other special characters visually.
  • Spacing: A quick visual recap of the difference between leading, tracking, and kerning.
  • The Baseline: A diagram to help you differentiate between a glyph’s x-height, overhang, ascender height, and other sizing terms in relation to the baseline.
  • Variants: Learn some of the many variants a typeface can include.
  • Type Classification: Humanist, Old Style, or Egyptian? Identify historical type styles with this handy list.


As always, we hope this resource improves your workflow and simplifies the process of designing layouts with type. What’s your favorite typography term or tool? Let us know in the comments area below.


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Typography Basics Cheatsheet
Remember key typography concepts
Typography terms made simple.

Grab this handy cheatsheet summarizing some of the most important typography terms.

Download the PDF
About the Author
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Lesley Yarbrough

Tinkerer. Maker of quirky fonts with a sprouty disposition.

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5 Comments
  • Really good typography tips, thanks for share! 4 years ago
  • Tracking and kerning are huge and matter so much. But, my favorite typography tool to use is glyphs with open type! 4 years ago
  • Agreed, kerning is key! @unkskitty 4 years ago
  • Thank you for the great resource! 4 years ago
  • thank you for the cheatsheet 4 years ago