Part of the Multimedia and graphics glossary:

In information technology, a glyph (pronounced GLIHF ; from a Greek word meaning carving) is a graphic symbol that provides the appearance or form for a character . A glyph can be an alphabetic or numeric font or some other symbol that pictures an encoded character.The following is from a document written as background for the Unicode character set standard.

An ideal characterization of characters and glyphs and their relationship may be stated as follows:
  1. A character conveys distinctions in meaning or sounds. A character has no intrinsic appearance.
  2. A glyph conveys distinctions in form. A glyph has no intrinsic meaning.
  3. One or more characters may be depicted by one or more glyph representations (instances of an abstract glyph) in a possibly context dependent fashion.

In the Unicode standard, a character is stated to be an abstract entity and not a glyph (some visual representation of a character).

This was last updated in September 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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