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X-heights, Ascenders, and Descenders

X-height refers to the height of the lower case letters in a line of text.

In the word man, the bottom of the letters forms the baseline, while the top forms the x-height. Ascenders are the parts of a letterform that extend above the x-height. In the word dismantle, the tops of the d, t, and l are the ascenders. Descenders extend below the baseline. In the word dismantling, the bottom of the letter g is the descender.

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Introduction