The Anatomy of Letterforms
Do you know your ears from your shoulders? Your necks from your tails?
Nope, I'm not talking about the human body, but the fancy terms folks use to describe parts of a letter.
What's that you say? Aren't they just lines and squiggles that you use to communicate?
Well, if you're working with letters, whether as a graphic designer, a type designer or calligrapher, it's useful to know that the long squiggle at the end of the letter is a swash, or that you cross your t's with a crossbar, and that sometimes your g's have ears.
I know there are a ton of these infographics out there on the big badass web, but voila, here is the I Draw Letters version free for you to download as a pdf, should you want to learn the terminology (highly recommended!). Oh, and even if you already know this stuff like the back of your hand, perhaps you'll fancy the fact that mine is delightfully colorful and happy!
It isn't absolutely necessary to be able to recite all this, but simply getting familiar will help greatly especially if you plan on communicating with others about type, letters and their characteristics.
Plus, becoming familiar with the framework of letters will help you critique your own work, as you'll be more in tune with the parts that make up the whole—and your eye will be able to recognize the underlying structure of various letterforms, shapes and styles that you encounter.
Ooh, by the way, if you're getting started with calligraphy consider popping in your email. I'll hit you up with some tips 'n' tricks, plus insights as I continue to learn more!