Counters

It’s been a few weeks since my last post, but I want to get back on top of it, so here we go! Today we are diving right into counters. In typography, counters are the partially or fully enclosed space in a letter. Counters come in all shapes and sizes and, because of that reason, play an important part in legibility.

6picas_counter

Due to the large, open counters that give a typeface a portion of it’s legibility a direct byproduct is usually a taller x-height to accommodate the larger counters. Taller x-heights (usually) result in an overall increase in legibility, thus causing a direct correlation between counters and x-height. Finally because the majority of the letters we read are lowercase, the overall effect is a positive step in gaining better legibility.

Below is an example of a typeface with small counters and a typeface with large counters. When set in body copy, it is easy to see how typefaces with larger counters (therefore larger x-heights) are more legible.

small-and-large-counters

 

What’s the Point?

Counters have a direct impact on x-height and because of that, impact the overall legibility of the typeface.

Counter:  the partially or fully enclosed space in a letter. Examples include a,b,c,d,g,o,p,q.s,A,B,C,D,G,O,P,Q,R, and S.