Accents in Font Names

Mark Simonson's picture

I thought this might have come up here before, but I can't find any discussions about it...

Is it possible to include an accented character in a font name? FontLab allows it in some name fields, but not others. This leads me to wonder if such a discrepancy (some name fields with the accented character, some without) would lead to technical problems for users.

I've found at least one font with an accent in the name: ITC Odyssée. It appears that the accent is used only in the "trade name" as it appears in specimen books and such, not in the actual font name. I'm not sure if anything usefull can be deduced from this.

J Weltin's picture

I believe at least Microsoft doesn’t support accented characters. Whenever i put my surname Jürgen into the entry field the u-dieresis doesn’t show up in the Microsoft related entries. And i remember once having crashed the OS when i loaded a generated font with an accented character. But that was years ago in Fontographer era. Haven’t tried it again since then ;-)

Christoph's picture


every OT name record contains information about platform and encoding.
E.g. 16,3,1,1033 stands for

16 = name ID Preferred Family
3 = platform ID Microsoft
1 = encoding ID Unicode
1033 = language ID English

So theoretically it is possible to add separate name records for each possible combination of platform, encoding and language. But if it works like you suppose ... You'll have to test!



twardoch's picture

Adobe tried using them in Künstler Script but they reverted to Kuenstler Script due to compatibility problems with older apps.

I strongly recommend for family and style names (both regular and OpenType variants) as well as in the full name to stick to uppercase and lowercase plain English letters, spaces, and possibly numbers — but nothing else. No dashes, underscores, slashes, ampersands or accented letters.

In PS Font Name, only plain English letters, no spaces or even numbers, and exactly one dash between the family name part and the style name part.


hrant's picture

ASCII-7 still lives at the deepest levels.


Mark Simonson's picture

I was afraid that was the case, since I don't recall noticing any fonts with accented characters in my font menus. Too bad.

Si_Daniels's picture

We include localized font names in some of our East Asian fonts (eg Meiryo メイリオ ) however these do tend to cause problems in legacy apps.

Mark Simonson's picture

What I have in mind wouldn't be a localization. An example would be if I want to use a French word/name as a font name or part of a font name and preserve the French spelling (with proper accents) regardless of the host system's language.

rcc's picture

Given Adam's remarks above, I hesitate to even advance this suggestion: in the AFDKO MakeOTFUserGuide.pdf see the "Note on accented/extended characters" (pages 8-9).

Like far too many things with OpenType at present (despite how many years since initial rollout?), the caveat seems to stand: Access to features/functions is dependent on a given user's operating system and application support.

In short, Mark, seems like it's a crapshoot at best. Good luck.

Mark Simonson's picture

So, possible, but maybe not a good idea. Thanks, everyone.

Jens Kutilek's picture

Adam wrote: In PS Font Name, only plain English letters, no spaces or even numbers, and exactly one dash between the family name part and the style name part.

Where would you see problems when using numbers (or a period) in the PS Font Name of OT fonts? I did some tests on this recently and didn't notice any.


dberlow's picture

"...and possibly numbers."

I've found that numerals don't work, and must be spelled.


solfeggio's picture

"... numerals don't work, and must be spelled."

Hold the phone, David. Mightn't that be a bug in FontLab?

Howzat? See this: "Numbers in Font Names" ( wherein R. Roberts essentially says numbers are legit.

Which (or who) is right? Beats me ... as usual.

Thread Drift Dep't.:  Oh, and while we're at it, how about an apostrophe in a font name? Is that a legal character? FontLab balks and pukes out an error alert. But how else to generate a proper handwriting font called, say, "Satan's Scrawl"? (It is Halloween after all.)

dberlow's picture

"Mightn’t that be a bug in FontLab?"

Fontlab makes them fine, but they don't appear up in all application menus, is what I could have said.


RachelR's picture

dberlow - which applications ?

dberlow's picture

The last time I tried this, a year and half ago, was for a series where there was a font for each size from 8 to 16 point, and those numbers did not work with either InDesign or Text edit menus, I cannot remember which, and had to be changed to words. Before that around 2 years ago, I tried with Juliana, and ended up with words like "Opal" and "Pearl", instead of 8 or 9.


blank's picture

Exlibris and Linotype are both shipping fonts that work fine with numbers in the names. Maybe Jos or a Linotyper can shed some light…

hrant's picture

My Mana pixelfonts have numbers in the names, and I haven't had any complaints from users. I have tested them in InDesign (on Windows) but haven't tried them in Text.

David, and I was thinking that your spelling-out of numbers was an aspiration towards classiness. :-)


piccic's picture

I guess this puts out of question my ideas for the possible naming strategy of an Italian typeface (with planned point size masters using numerals) that has an accented letter in its name. In fact I was almost sure it was a risk, since a trial I did of the face showed fine in some applications (InDesign), with the unaccented letter substituted in others, and with a "blank square" in some word processor.

Anyone knows how John Downer named the variants of his Paperback typeface (released by House Industries)?

ASCII-7 still lives at the deepest levels.
At least this sounds like good science fiction… :)

Thomas Phinney's picture

The problem we (Adobe) found with accents in menu names was in very early 2003. From my records, it affected two classes of apps:

- The then-current version of Microsoft Word for Mac (2001?). Because of differences in the menu name handling between Mac and Windows, Word files using these fonts failed to be cross-platform, ever.

- Adobe's *Japanese* applications using our core font library. AFAICT, this was fixed in the CS2 generation of our Japanese applications, shipped in late 2004. The "problem" fonts did not appear in the font menu of these applications.

Special thanks to Google Desktop for digging up this info. :)



piccic's picture

So now (theoretically) the issue should not be a problem, Thomas?

BTW many thanks for the glyph coverage articles on your page…

Thomas Phinney's picture

I don't know if the MS Word for Mac problems were resolved, or when. I think one would want to test that....



Frode Bo Helland's picture

FYI, Word for Mac 2011 shows the correct name and font in the font menu, but reverts to the default sans serif on the page.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Ouch! Okay, so accents in menu names are still a problem.

They might be a problem in some other apps as well—that is just the one we know about.


HVB's picture

I think that there's a NON-technical usability reason for avoiding accents in font names and file names.
Many people (particularly in the US ) have no idea how to enter an accented character (even if they know what they are), and if they're trying to search for anything with such characters, they're dependent upon whatever search tool they're using. Google's Search does a good job of equating e and é and è, but many tools only look for exactly what's entered; they won't find Egalité if the user looks for Egalite

dberlow's picture

Is this how url usability should work too?

HVB's picture

[should this apply to URL usability?]. Probably much less so. I imagine that most web access is either through links or bookmarks, rather than via manual URL entry. And those that DO enter web addresses are more likely to know what they're doing. One might not know exactly what to search for, but if copying, the original can be seen.

Theunis de Jong's picture

H, most design software provide a list of fonts to choose from, so you don't have to type the name.
Even if so, it would be a nice feature if the software ignored accents when typing a font name.

Catering for older software ... I don't know. Of course people are going to hate you when they "just cannot use" your font, but then again there was a time when leadsetters said the same about digital fonts.

My own font creation flimsy doesn't mind about accents, I leave it up to the user :-) (Then again, for compatibility sake it does issue a warning when the accent is out of ISO-Latin-1 range as, per OTF specs, a font name must be recognizable in both Windows -- Unicode! -- and Boring Old Mac Roman text strings...)

(Edit) I see that Adam Twardoch addresses the Win/Mac Name Discrepancy issue in Recommendations for [..] Word. Fortunately, my own tool is targeted mainly at InDesign users. Who needs Word anyway ;-)

dberlow's picture

"Is this how url usability shou

I'll try again, because I don't think the issue of accents in font names is neither an American, nor a typing issue.:)

Font names may have to carry the family, weight, width, posture, kind-o-terminal, size mastered, glyph repertoire, and foundry before anything specific to a device, client or rendering.

MSAlmostAdriansUltraCompressedItalicCrenulatedHeadlinePro.ttf, eg, even if I don't show it to you.

You don't think that font names need Unicode enablement? Even if less information's needed to be carried in the names through mutually agreed on UI standards, a seriously farfetched notion in 2012, the font family names alone should not be so limited, should they?

Thomas Phinney's picture

I agree that font names need Unicode enablement, and that apps and OSes ought to support it. I am sad that not all apps do. :/

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