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I am reading a short text on typography, which refers to the “flow line” without defining what it is. My dictionary has a non-typographic definition:

flow line
a route followed by a product through successive stages of manufacture or treatment.

which doesn’t shed much light. Google search results all say some variation of “the line on which the text is placed”. So, is the flow line the same thing as the baseline?

(A picture being worth a kiloword, graphical definitions would be very welcome!)

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

According to (4th google hit)


Flowlines are horizontal lines that break the space into horizontal bands. They can be used to help guide the eye across the page and can be used to impose starting and stopping points for text and images to be aligned.

When elements are aligned to the top of a flowline it’s called a hangline as the elements appear to hang from the line.

Type is often aligned to a series of flowlines equally spaced down the page called baselines. The base of the type sits on the line, hence the term. Aligning type to a baseline can help establish a vertical rhythm in a design.

So in short, it's a grid element while the baseline is more of a page element. E.g. every 8th baseline could be a flowline, creating a grid.

And yes, if you follow the link, there is a picture too.

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