What is X-height in typography? This is one of the many questions you may need to ask when looking for the ideal typeface in a branding or creative project. An X font height is an important indicator of how your typography will look in a given environment.
Not to be confused with point size (which identifies the entire size of your font), the term X-height refers to the height of the lowercase “X” in any typeface, regardless of point size. .
While an X-height definition might not seem particularly important outside of the creative landscape, it’s a crucial aspect of typography, as it helps ensure businesses and designers can choose a type that matches the personality. and brand image.
Today we’re going to take a closer look at X-height in typography and why it’s such a valuable consideration for your brand journey.
The Definition of X-Height in Typography
Let’s start with the basics: what is X-height?
The term X-height is one of many typographic concepts intended to help with the positioning and placement of text in a project. X-height describes the highest point of a lowercase “X” in any typeface and shows how short or tall glyphs can be in a typeface.
Fonts with a high X-height generally have better readability with smaller font sizes because the central component of the letter is usually wider and easier to read. Larger white space in letters like “d” “b” and “m” that lines up with X-height makes characters easier to perceive.
X-height in typography is a relative unit for measuring the proportion of lowercase letters, creating consistency within the larger font baseline. The X-height of a typeface can vary greatly from design to design.
Basically, as mentioned above, X-height is not the same as point-height, which is a measure of the overall height of the guy, from the top of the tallest character’s ascendant above the baseline, to the bottom of the longest descender.
Font height X: is the size bigger?
X-height is just one of many heights measured in typography. Designers also look at things like “cap height,” which refers to the height of a typeface’s flat capital letters, measured from the baseline.
You can also measure the maximum height of ascenders with an ascending line.
X-height is one of the most valuable tools for ensuring the readability of any font. A large or small X-height can either improve the readability of a character or make it difficult to perceive.
In general, the extra white space in a larger X-height will make the font easier to read under all circumstances.
Larger X-heights are usually the choice for situations where you want to prioritize clarity, emphasis, and readability. Some fonts specifically designed to be readable at smaller sizes deliberately use larger X-heights, such as Spartan Classified or the Antique Olive typeface.
Notably, readability isn’t the only point you may need to consider when choosing the X-height of a typeface. Even in the same point size as a font with a lower X-height, a font with a larger X-height would consume more space.
This means that you won’t be able to get as much text on a screen or in a specific design if you use a larger X-height.
A larger X-height can also increase the perceived size and space consumption of ascenders and descenders. Although the row height in the two examples above is the same, the letters appear to be clustered closer together, which can create a cramped image.
Designers would need to adjust the line spacing in their text to increase the visual space between ascenders and descenders, which would further increase the amount of space consumed by the text.
When do companies use a smaller X-height?
Often, using a smaller X-height in a typeface means that white space in the typeface is reduced, which can reduce character readability, especially at smaller point sizes.
However, when the larger X-height takes up more space in a project, it can also make text appear cluttered and harder to read without additional tracking and kerning.
The problem with larger X-heights becomes even greater in a bolder font or a font with heavier weight, which makes each letter thicker and closer together. This means that you may prefer to switch to a shorter X-height if you are creating large chunks of text.
The amount of white space between characters and around letters on a page is just as important as the level of white space you can see in each character.
When it comes to X-height, bigger isn’t always better. While individual letters may be more visible, the text as a whole may become harder to read.
Businesses tend to prefer smaller X-heights when creating content for a website, flyer, or something that requires a lot of text separated into paragraphs.
By using line spacing and kerning correctly, it is possible to ensure that a font with a small X-height can still be as readable as a font with a large X-height, even at a smaller point size.
At the same time, a smaller X-height also allows designers to take up much less space, allowing more text to fit into a given space.
Provided the ascenders and descenders of your typeface aren’t too long, you can also make the gaps between different lines of fonts appear larger with a low X-height.
How to choose the right height X?
Like most things in branding and design, X-height in typography can be difficult to understand at first. The most important thing to remember is that there is no one size fits all when choosing the right typeface.
When it comes to practicing typography, you’ll need to consider everything from X-height to kerning and tracking, depending on each situation.
A larger X-height that makes your font clearer and more readable in a header on a blog page can make the same content cluttered and hard to read when used in body text.
Pay attention to the space around and inside the typeface in any environment, to ensure it has enough room to breathe.
If you want to continue using the same X-height and text style for all content on a page, you may need to take extra care to ensure the font is readable in all environments. This can mean adding extra kerning or leading to different parts of your page.
Don’t forget to pay close attention to how other font heights and sizes affect the overall image as well. A long ascender or descender in a typeface will make a larger X-height much harder to use if you are producing large amounts of text.
Making the Most of Height X
X-height in typography is just one of many concepts you’ll need to consider when creating the perfect design for any type-based project.
When choosing your X-height, be sure to carefully consider each element of the typeface, whether it’s using serifs or whether there are complex ascenders and descenders you need to be aware of.
If you’re trying to pair typefaces for a design, it’s also worth noting that mixing typefaces with similar X-heights is generally a good idea to create harmony, while opposite X-heights create a sense of dissonance.
Good luck finding your best type!
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