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Font Design - Basic Measurement Guidelines For A Font

First steps in font design . . .

Now that you have decided to design your own font, where do you start? Well, you could start with a font that you already hold the copyright to, make various changes and end up with an entirely new font. But the real fun when designing your own fonts is drawing each individual letter and giving them a personality. But after you have a few font letters finished, you will realize that there is a method to the madness. It will make your work much easier if you decide on some basic measurements for your new font. How low do you want the bottom of the g or the y to extend? How tall do you want the letter m to be? How high do you want the top of the letter h to be? Deciding on these few measurements and using them throughout the entire alphabet will give your font uniformity and make it easier to read. Well, it's your design and anything goes but below are some guidelines that can help you get started.

Remember back when you first learned to write and your teacher told you to try to keep your letters on the lines of your paper? The baseline is the invisible line that the letters will sit on.

This is the maximum distance above the baseline or the highest point for letters such as h and f.

This is the maximum distance below the baseline or the lowest point of any letters such as y and j.

Font Height
This is the total vertical height of your font or the distance between the maximum ascent and maximum descent numbers.

This is the maximum height of the lower case letter such as m and n.

As a general rule, the ascent number is 4 times that of the descent number. For example, if the ascent number is 800, then the descent number would be 200 and the font height would be 1000.

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