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A number of fonts (Gotham, Vera, Nexa) have an uppercase M where the middle V shape doesn't touch the baseline. In many (most?) other fonts, that shape does touch the baseline. Is there a formal or informal term for this difference (à la "two story a")?

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You could call the V shape in a letter M the "vertex".

On Identifont they use this terminology, and call the V shape in the M a "centre vertex".

They describe it like this

enter image description here

The upward pointing corners of the M are sometimes called an "apex", so technically, the M only has one vertex, so there's no need to call it a "centre vertex". You could just say "the vertex is above the baseline" to describe it.

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  • 2
    I was going to post the exact same content, but I took too long browsing through Identifont before this question popped up ^^'
    – Vincent
    Feb 4 at 17:24
  • While the apex is the highest point, a vertex is simply a corner. There are three vertices in M, so there is a need to specify which vertex you're talking about -- even though only one is actually capable of touching the baseline. You certainly couldn't talk about "the vertex". Feb 4 at 20:35
  • Not so sure about that @AndrewLeach - there's a glossary here on fontsmith.com which specifically says the vertex is "The point where two strokes meet at the bottom of a character".
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 4 at 20:40
  • I offer you a differing definition (see sense 2). Also, if you're designing a font, then the geometry definition becomes important. Feb 4 at 20:43
  • @AndrewLeach in normal English, I would agree a vertex is any corner. But typography uses some technical terms in different ways from normal English usage. This might be an example of that. - other examples are "foot", "flag", "ear", etc. Some aren't even English, "Halbfett" for example.
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 4 at 20:45

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