What's the dangly bit on the N?
February 14, 2010 8:25 PM   Subscribe

In some fonts, the lower right hand corner of a capital 'N' hangs below the rest of the base line of the font. What is this called?
posted by SpecialK to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Some of the lowercase curved letters hang slightly below the baseline as well (o, e, c, s) in some fonts. I don't know of a specific term for the practice, but it's done to maintain the visual grounding of the line of type. If a delicate element like the point on the N sat exactly on the baseline, the letter would appear precarious, so it's positioned by visual weight instead.
posted by Fifi Firefox at 8:48 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

A serif? Some fonts just have more flair than others.
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 PM on February 14, 2010

Rustic capital
posted by tellurian at 9:08 PM on February 14, 2010

expanding on Fifi Firefox's answer: the practice is called optical adjustment, and i've also seen overshoot (for things being adjusted on the top of the letter) and underhang (for things being adjusted on the bottom of the letter). can't remember if those are widely-used terms or not; it's been a while since i was really active in type design. you could ask over in the typophile forums.

here's the basic anatomy of letterforms.
posted by patricking at 9:55 PM on February 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Here's the example -- this is part of a logo. It *does* look precarious, and it catches my eye, but I can't get the designer to recognize that it's a problem.
posted by SpecialK at 11:25 AM on February 15, 2010

Bringhurst calls that "piercing the baseline," though this doesn't seem to be a glossary term or otherwise widely used phrase.

The only time I've ever noticed an N like this, I called it a "mistake" because I had tried to generate an outline Futura by stroking the path with a wide pen.
posted by rlk at 12:38 PM on February 15, 2010

It's definitely atypical for an N but since it is part of a logo, not a font face, I wouldn't rule it out necessarily. Can you show more of the logo? I don't recognize that it is a problem either.
posted by rahnefan at 1:59 PM on February 16, 2010

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