Graphic Design Terms 11-12: Ascender vs Descender

Ascender: the part of a lowercase letterthat extends above the mean line, or x-height, of a fontHave you heard the terms ascender and descender? Do you know what they are?

An ascender is the part of a lowercase letter that extends above the mean line of a font, or x-height, whereas the descender is the part that appears below the base line of a font. (See the next post in 2 days time if you’re not sure what the x-height is.)

Letters with ascenders are usually: b, d, f, h, k, l, t.
Letters with descenders are usually: g, j, p, q, y. Lowercase f and z also have descenders in many typefaces.

In some typefaces, ascenders are tall, extending considerably higher than the mean line of the font, while others are short and squat, only extending a short distance. Similarly, descenders may extend well below the base line, while others only extend a short distance. The taller and deeper the ascender, the higher the line space needed to accommodate them.
Descender: the part of a lowercase letter that appears below the base line of a fontThe style of ascenders and descenders varies between typefaces. Some are perfectly vertical, while others may be oblique.
In script typefaces, ascenders and descenders often include elaborate swirls and loops that extend well above the x-height or below the baseline, making it hard to read. This is one of the reasons why script typefaces should not be used in body copy.
(Ironically there are no descenders in either the word ascender or descender!)
My last post was a bit long, so I tried to keep this one a bit shorter.