Typography is the art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible. The arrangement of type involves the selection of typefaces, point size, line length, leading , adjusting the spaces between groups of letters and adjusting the space between pairs of letters...
, a descender
is the portion of a letter
that extends below the baseline
In European and West Asian typography and penmanship, the baseline is the line upon which most letters "sit" and below which descenders extend.In the example to the right, the letter 'p' has a descender; the other letters sit on the baseline....
of a font
In typography, a typeface is the artistic representation or interpretation of characters; it is the way the type looks. Each type is designed and there are thousands of different typefaces in existence, with new ones being developed constantly....
. The line that descenders reach down to is known as the beard line
For example, in the letter y
, the descender would be the "tail," or that portion of the diagonal
A diagonal is a line joining two nonconsecutive vertices of a polygon or polyhedron. Informally, any sloping line is called diagonal. The word "diagonal" derives from the Greek διαγώνιος , from dia- and gonia ; it was used by both Strabo and Euclid to refer to a line connecting two vertices of a...
line which lies below the v
created by the two lines converging. In the letter p
at right, it is the stem reaching down past the o
In most fonts, descenders are reserved for lowercase characters such as g
, and sometimes f
. Some fonts, however, also use descenders for some numerals
A digit is a symbol used in combinations to represent numbers in positional numeral systems. The name "digit" comes from the fact that the 10 digits of the hands correspond to the 10 symbols of the common base 10 number system, i.e...
, and 9
). Such numerals are called old-style numerals. (Some italic
In typography, italic type is a cursive typeface based on a stylized form of calligraphic handwriting. Owing to the influence from calligraphy, such typefaces often slant slightly to the right. Different glyph shapes from roman type are also usually used—another influence from calligraphy...
fonts, such as Computer Modern italic
Computer Modern is the family of typefaces used by default by the typesetting program TeX. It was created by Donald Knuth with his METAFONT program, and was most recently updated in 1992. However, the family font was superseded by CM-Super , the latest release dating 2008...
, put a descender on the numeral 4
but not on any other numerals. Such fonts are not considered old-style.) Some fonts also use descenders for the tails on a few uppercase letters such as J
The parts of characters that extend above the x-height
In typography, the x-height or corpus size refers to the distance between the baseline and the mean line in a typeface. Typically, this is the height of the letter x in the font , as well as the u, v, w, and z...
of a font are called ascenders.