Lessons in Lingo — Typography

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For our fourth and final Lesson in Lingo, we’re talking typography, text and fonts. We’ll teach you the difference between an orphan and a widow (it’s not as morbid as it sounds!) and the origin of Lorem Ipsum.


Now let’s get you fully worded up so you can get down to your graphic design planning!

Graphic design dictionary.


This term refers to the visual style or appearance the text is presented in. Typography should be arranged in a way that is legible as well as visually appealing. Aspects to consider when selecting or developing typography are the size, slope, spacing and weight of the characters.

Font & Typeface

These two terms are often used interchangeably, however there is a difference. A typeface is a family of fonts that have the same characteristics. Fonts are the variations within a typeface such as the size and boldness of each letter and symbol.


A small stroke attached to the end of the letter or symbol.


Sans is a French word for without, so sans-serif is simply a typeface without serif.


This is a type of serif typeface that features serifs that are thick and blocklike.


Fluid typefaces that are based on cursive handwriting or calligraphy.


A typeface that features characters of equal breadth.


A system of organising or structuring the typography in a way that establishes importance as well as offers the reader ease of navigation.

Orphans & Widows

Terms that are used in design for unwanted stray words in typography. An orphan is a lone word (or a few words) that is at the end of a paragraph and sits at the top of a page. Ideally, the word would fit together with the rest of the paragraph on the previous page. A widow refers to a word (or a few words) that is at the end of a paragraph and sits at the bottom of the paragraph or page. Orphans and widows cause excessive white space and can make sections of text look unbalanced.

(please make a graphic version)



paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph.

(please make a graphic version)


paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph paragraph widow.


Kerning refers to perceived distance of space between the characters in a typeface. The adjustment of this space can eliminate awkward looking gaps and improve legibility.


Leading refers to the space between the horizontal lines of text and, like kerning, the adjustment of this space can improve or hinder legibility.


The distance between the bottom or baseline of a character and the top of the main body of the lowercase characters.

Ascender & Descender

An ascender is an upward stroke in a character (typically a straight line) that extends above the x-height. The descender is the opposite; a downward stroke of a character that extends below the baseline.

Lorum Ipsum

A paragraph or set of paragraphs of dummy text that is used as a placeholder for copy. Its purpose is for designers to establish the layout and hierarchy of a page before the copy is ready.


It is believed Lorum Ipsum originated in 45 BC when it appeared in Roman philosopher Cicero’s book De Finibus bonorum et malorum (also known as On the Ends of Good & Evil) in the longer form ‘delorum’ meaning pain in Latin.


It was first used as placeholder text during the renaissance era (14-17th century) when printing presses were invented. Nowadays you can find it on pretty much any software that designers and writers use.

We hope you have found the Lessons in Lingo series helpful and feel confident to navigate your way through a graphic design conversation or presentation. If you come across any design terms not covered in Lessons in Lingo, please feel free to message us via Instagram with a list of words you would like clarified.


Happy designing!

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