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Descender

What is a Descender?

A descender is the part of a character that descends below the baseline.

descender-fixed

Typically, you will see descenders on the letters g, j, q, p, y, and sometimes f. The descender on the letter q is the downwards, vertical stroke extending from the “o” section of the character.

gjpqy
source

Descenders can also appear on numerals, typically 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9. The bottom of the numbers can stretch below the baseline, which gives the font extra character.

Using Descenders in Design

You’ll see descenders everywhere if you’re paying attention. Let’s take a look at a few things you should consider when it comes to using descenders in your design.

1. Crashing

This happens when the descender from a character on one line touches an ascender from a letter below.

crashing descenders

It’ll make your copy look awkward at best but (at worst) very difficult to read. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to fix the issue.

If you can, alternate words that don’t possess ascenders or descenders. If you can’t do that, try adjusting the kerning, leading or tracking to provide more space for the letters.

2. Descenders on Numerals

One way designers inject life into their fonts is by utilizing old-style figures. These are numerals that vary in height and position, meaning they can drop below the baseline.

numerals
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Be careful when you use old-style figures. They are unsuitable for some designs. For example, using a typeface like this on tables will appear untidy.

However, they can create a more natural flow to the copy when used in large body texts.

3. Tails on Capital Letters

Another consideration is descenders on capital letters. These are most commonly seen on the letter Q, in which the line crossing the “O” dips below the baseline. However, some fonts will drop the letter J below the baseline.

QJ

These are especially flamboyant on script and handwriting fonts. In these instances, you’ll want to keep an eye out for potential crashes.

Google Fonts With Long Descenders

1. Indie Flower

Indie Flower is whimsical, easy-to-read, and perfect for lovers of handwriting style fonts with rounded edges. It’s a bit bolder than some of the other ones, allowing it to be used in a variety of circumstances.

indie flower
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2. Architects Daughter

This font incoporates an everyday feel with the squared look of architectural writing.

architects daughter
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3. Homemade Apple

This cursive handwriting script adds a personal touch to your website, article, etc. With beautiful curves and imperfect edges that are great for headers and page titles of medium to larger fonts.

homemade apple
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Google Fonts With Short Descenders

1. Passion One

In regular, bold, and black styles, Passion One was designed with the intent to be used in larger-sized titles. The counterforms decrease as the thickness increases, so be sure to use the best style for each occasion.

passion one
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2. Sigmar One

This casual, display-specific font is based on mid-20th century pulp magazine advertising fonts, making it perfect for situations when you need your text to pop!

sigmar one
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3. Philosopher

The style of this universal font is derived from Agfa Rotis and ITC Binary. In regular, regular italic, bold, and bold italic styles, Philosopher works well for text ranging from the title to the body.

philosopher
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Google Fonts Without Descenders

1. Luckiest Guy

This heavyweight sans serif font was inspired by hand-lettered advertisements from the 1950s. The thick, all caps look works wonders for titles, headers, and even block quotes.

luckiest guy
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2. Unica One

This condensed all caps sans serif font is perfect for headlines and short texts like block quotes or emphasized sentences. It’s a simple, readable font that works well across the internet.

unica one
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3. Crushed

This unicase font was designed primarily for header and display use. The condensed body width and subtly tapered strokes work beautifully for the capitals and the unique capital-sized lowercase letters.

crushed
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We enjoyed exploring this topic with you. Want to keep going? Pick one of these related terms to read next:

A. Ascender [uh-sen-der], noun:

Descenders go down and ascenders go up. We’re talking about the same concept from a different perspective… Read the full definition »

B. X-height [eks-hahyt], noun:

The x-height refers to the height of the lowercase x in a specific font, often referring to the distance between the baseline and the mean. But that’s not all you need to know… Read the full definition »

C. Baseline [beys-lahyn], noun:

The baseline describes the invisible line that all your letters and words sit on when you type. We take an in-depth look at this basic concept and discuss the impact it has on modern design… Read the full definition »

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