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Terms: Serif and Terminal. Learning Durning the Sketching Process

1.How to distinguish between a “serif” and a “terminal”
Basically, as the definition,
-a “serif” is “the right-angled or oblique foot ant the end of the stroke.”
-a “terminal” is “the self-contained finish of a stroke without a serif.”

-For example of letter “b” in Didot font. The framed area is the serif of this letter which is a extra piece at the end of the stem. This letter can still be recognized without a serif. A serif is the small lines at the end of a stroke or the edges of letters. It’s a extension piece after a finished stroke or edge to decorate a particular font.

-A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface.

-A typeface without serifs is called sans serif(sans in French means without).


-Letter “t” has a terminal at the end of stem. This part is not a serif becasue itself is a finish part of the stroke. A terminal can also be a fancy piece of a typeface, but it’s not a extra piece, we do need it to finish a form of a letter. Its a straight or curved end of a stroke which does not include a serif.

More definitions about terminal:

The terminal, which is any stroke that does not end in a Serif

  • The finial, a tapered or curved end[1]
  • The swash, an extended or decorative flourish that replaces a serif or terminal on a letter
  • The lachrymal (or teardrop), as found in Caslon, Galliard, and Baskerville[2]
  • The ball, as found in Bodoni and Clarendon[3]
  • The beak, as found in Perpetua, Pontifex, and Ignatius[4]
  • Hooked
  • Pear-shaped


From General
Posted by Yan Wen Pan on February 10, 2013

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