Some lowercase Latin letters have parts that go over/under the text line: compare w with k and j.

The k has an upper part, and the j has a lower one. Do these parts have a name?

  • 1
    ascender and descender
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 16, 2019 at 1:13
  • @BillyKerr Oh, thanks, this is an answer. If you haven't time to post it, I will do it myself tomorrow.
    – john c. j.
    Feb 16, 2019 at 1:22
  • Feel free to post it as an answer. Although you will probably have to add a bit more text to turn it into a full answer.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 16, 2019 at 1:28
  • 1
    Perhaps check this glossary of typographical terms for descriptions of those terms
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 16, 2019 at 1:38

1 Answer 1


In typography:

. The ‘Baseline’ is the (usually imaginary) line that most of a documents text/characters are sitting on.

. The ‘Capline’ is the (usually imaginary) line that marks the top of capital letters as well as the top of some lower case ascenders.

. The ‘X height’ is the (usually imaginary) line that marks the height part of the lower case letters disregarding the ascenders.

SO -

. Ascenders : part of a lower case letter that rises above the X-Height.

. Descenders : part of a letter that extends below the baseline.

I used the link provided by Billy Kerr for help with definitions : https://www.canva.com/learn/typography-terms/

Hopefully this is a helpful summation of a few terms and specifically ascenders / descenders in typography.

  • Caveat. The baseline is merely the horizontal line that the letters are positioned relative to; they don't necessarily sit on it. Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic letters do sit atop the baseline, but ogham and Han letters straddle the baseline, and letters in many Indic scripts (such as Devanagari and Bengali) hang below the baseline.
    – Vikki
    Jan 30, 2022 at 4:21

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