Re: Caron / Hacek?

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Thu Jun 12 2003 - 13:38:48 EDT

  • Next message: Jim Allan: "Re: Caron / Hacek?"

    From: "Pim Blokland" <>
    > António Martins-Tuválkin schreef:
    > [quoting Radovan Garabik]
    > >> In fact, the apostrophe form is used because there is a lack of
    > >> convenient space to put carons over "tall" letters d,t,l, whereas
    > >> there is no problem with n,e,r.
    > Funny you should bring this subject back up. I never stopped
    > wondering about why these letters suffer from lack of sufficient
    > space, while the uppercase versions of these letters apparently do
    > not!

    If you look at how most fonts are designed, you'll see that the
    caps size is smaller than the ascent in most cases.

    Capital letters simply don't use ascents or descents, and thus they
    occupy a *smaller* space than the lowercase letters.

    So the ascent line of b, d, h, k, l, t are very often higher than the
    top of capital letters like M.

    The same is true for the descent of lowercase letters like g, j, p, q, y
    which are alsmost always lower than the baseline used by most
    capital letters.

    So a text with lowercase letters is often narrower but also taller than a
    text in capital letters or "small caps".

    In some cases, there is no space in the font point size to put some
    upper diacritics above the letter, and the diacritic will almost always
    be written after the base character, sometimes with a distinct glyph,
    if the printed lines must fit in narrow lines (to save paper in books).

    Such space consideration is generally not a problem with the
    handwritten script, because most people adapt the height of the
    ascent of lowercase letters they draw, just to make the diacritic fit in
    the interline-space, but there's more liberty to place the diacritic above
    the letter to make it fit (notably, the handwirtten script can use
    widened characters so that the ascent of the letter will leave space
    for the diacritic, slightly moved to the right or the left of the ascent).

    When people are used to their handwritten script, the point size of
    their letter is already adapted with the line height, and no collision
    occurs with the upper or lower line, unlike with standard fonts for
    computers, whose ratio point size/line height is predetermined
    historically and cannot be changed just because new diacritics are
    added to the font.

    More recent fonts, such as Arial orTahoma, have beeen designed
    to correctly leave space for diacritics, even if letters with diacritics
    are not always present and precomposed in the font. This is a
    slight modification of the historic Helvetica font, but Arial is not
    always very readable due to this change.

    An even newer font such as Verdana was designed with less
    narrow characters, that allow to keep a good looking proportion
    for the point size and line height but keeps more spaces for the
    placement of diacritics without impacting to much the "color"
    of the font (the color of a font is not what you think: its the
    ratio of filled and blank spaces, on the page, and it should be
    approximately constant in well designed fonts, to avoid
    distracting the eye of readers with a "spotted" text which is
    harder to read.

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