What's the rectangle surrounding a font glyph, including its sidebearings, called? I Googled the words "bounding box" and got conflicting results, where some sources say it's the rectangle that bound the glyph tightly (without sidebearings), and others say it includes sidebearings.

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  • 2
    Not everything has a name unfortunately. There may in fact be no name, or multiple names for this.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 7:33
  • @joojaa After hours of futile research, even going so far as looking into non-English sources, I reluctantly agree. Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 8:33
  • 1
    In German it's "Schriftkegel" Commented Jun 9, 2022 at 16:15
  • @JulianSteinmann you should convert that to an answer. THough ists not exactly the same thing, but close enough
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 17, 2022 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


Okay, so after doing quite a bit of research, here's my conclusion: there seems to be no perfect English term. But there is one workable candidate, although it won't be very useful in English: "body". This is a reference to the "body" of a sort in movable typesetting, as suggested by user K Pease on Typedrawers. It is in fact still used in Japanese type design, specifically as 仮想ボディ ("imaginary body"), given that "bodies" are much more important as a concept in East Asian calligraphy and typography than Western ones. "Imaginary body", although a literal translation, is indeed used in some very limited English materials translated from Japanese, so it's not completely terrible. Adobe translates this term as "embox", which can be confused with the concept of the "em square", but given that the height of this box is always exactly one em, it's not a bad one either. The only problems with "imaginary body" and "embox" is that I haven't found any concrete demonstration of these terms on Western text in Japanese sources (most examples are strictly about Japanese text), but I hazard it wouldn't be that different anyway.

In short, "body", "imaginary body" or "embox". Not perfect, but still usable to some extent.


It is possible that this does not have an official, authoritative name. There is certainly no need for this name in the font specification because this is a calculated value, not really needed for anything in the font drawing.

You're in luck! You can make the authoritative name.

  • 1
    I talked to a font designer and he said that it does not have a name but if it does its M size
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 10, 2022 at 11:34

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