1. Learn the correct terminology
Whether you are creating a piece of work yourself or collaborating with a designer, it’s always helpful to be using the same language to describe the work. It gets you on the same wavelength and able to discuss ideas to create a better end solution. There are specific terms that relate to the various parts of each letter as well as the size and space relationships within a typeface.
There are many guides online such as Typedecon which provides a really helpful glossary of terms so you can learn the anatomy of typography and what the various elements within a typeface are referred to.
Helpful key terms you may need to know for this article are:
Character: Individual symbol, a set of which makes up a typeface, this can be a number, letter, or punctuation.
Glyph: A non-standard or decorative variation of a character.
Uppercase: The capital letters of the alphabet are uppercase glyphs.
Lowercase: The non-capital letters of the alphabet are lowercase glyphs.
Body Height: The distance between the top of the tallest letterform to the bottom of the lowest one.
Baseline: The imaginary line upon which a line of text rests.
X-height: The distance between the baseline of a line of type and the tops of the main body of lower case letters, not including descenders or ascenders.
Stem: The main (usually) vertical stroke of a letterform.
Ascender: The upward vertical stem on some lowercase letters, such as h and b. The imaginary line that these reach is called the Ascender Line. This line can be different to the Cap Line which differs in that it shows where all the Uppercase Characters reach to.
Descender: The downward vertical stem on some lowercase letters, such as p and y. The imaginary line that these reach is called the Descender Line.
Serif: A little extra stroke found at the end of main strokes of some letterforms.
Italics: Italic typefaces slant to the right and are paired with a regular font, generally used for a some kind of emphasis with in a body of text or caption. A true italic is individually designed to match the regular font from scratch rather than merely tilting the regular font.
Kerning: The space between two letters.
Tracking: The space between all the letters in a word.
Leading: The space in between lines of text.
Weight: This describes how fat or thin the strokes of a font are, with the most common weights being regular or bold. Some fonts may provide a myriad of weights from extra light to extra black.
2. Know your font classifications
Type classification is almost like a genre of film. It suggests that the type will have certain attributes shared by others in that classification. It is good to know some of the basic areas so you can accurately describe the kind of look of a font you may wish to use. The two main classifications you will often see referenced in the names of typefaces are serif and sans-serif but there are others that it is worth knowing about too.