Typography, orthography

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This article/section is a stub — probably a pile of half-sorted notes, is not well-checked so may have incorrect bits. (Feel free to ignore, or tell me)


Typography is the stylistic art (for the most part non-semantic) of presenting letters, including:

  • typefaces,
  • point size,
  • line length,
  • leading (line spacing)
  • letter spacing
  • ligatures


Orthography encompasses the details of writing system, including:

  • spelling rules (and some people)
  • the definition of the graphemes and diacritics (implicitly ties in the phoneme-grapheme mapping), as symbols, and how to write those
  • word and sentence boundaries
  • capitalization
  • puncuation
  • hyphenation
  • emphasis
  • digraphs
  • radical/determinative logic (in logographic systems)
  • stroke order (and count) in various logographic systems
  • collation logic (the definition of sort order)

A few languages are written in more than one writing system, so can be said to have multiple orphographies.

Note that orthography of adapted systems (such as romanizations of Japanese, Chinese, and such) is often somewhat synthetic/arbitrary.

Note that non-linguists may use orthography as a synonym for spelling.


Chinese, Japanese

  • No spaces between characters/compounds
  • characters go as if in a regular grid (equally sized and spaced)
  • Stroke types can be described as
    • straight horizontal line
    • straight vertical line
    • straight diagonal
    • curve
    • corner between straight horizontal/vertical lines
    • a few types of straight/curve and straight/diagonal
    • 'fish hook'
    • dot
  • Stroke order depends a little on language and system, but tendencies include:
    • left to right, top to bottom
    • center before sides (and sides still left to right)
    • right-to-left diagonals before left-to-right
    • horizontal before vertical (with crossings)
    • outside to inside (and left outside first)
    • ...but inside before the bottom closing stroke
    • last:
      • central vertical/horizontal that cross the rest of the kanji
      • closing,
      • bottom enclosing,
      • dots

Japanese mixes of Kanji and kana in a functional way.

See also