The appearance of letters depends upon geometry. Altering the ratio of one
dimension to another of any component part of a letter will change style,
attitude, and legibility. Understanding the effects of the changes you make is
the foundation to creative and distinctive lettering.
There are six basic guidelines to layout before lettering. Draw guidelines
lightly in pencil for easy erasure later. Before any lettering begins, set the
guidelines that define the parameters of the letter.
BASELINE: The baseline is a guideline that aligns the bottom of each letter.
With the exception of rounded letters (C, G, O, S, and Q), each letter
terminates on the baseline. Rounded letters appear smaller than letters with
linear dimensions therefore, extend them slightly below the baseline.
CAPLINE: The upper limit of capital letters (CL) is set by a capline. With
the exception of rounded letters, each capital letter terminates at the capline.
Extend rounded letters slightly above the capline to give them the appearance
of being equal in size to other letters. The distance between the baseline and
the capline is the point size of the letter.
WAISTLINE: A guideline called a waistline sets the upper limit of lower
case (LC) letters. The waistline is also known as an x-rating. Place the
waistline between the capline and baseline. Normally, the waistline is drawn
two thirds the height between the capline and the baseline. In decorative
letters, altering the waistline or x-rating of letters, increases or decreases
legibility without changing the overall point size of the letter.
Figure 5-12 shows the placement of the baseline, capline, and waistline.
Figure 5-12.Positioning the capline, waistline, and
Continued on next page