Ø ø (oslash) bar

David Waschbüsch's picture

Hi everyone,

in my current font (Brevier Ten) Ø and ø bar does not extend through the center counter of the O, o instead it only extends from the outer portions of the letter.

A bar through the center would certainly be more legible but with a broken bar texture/color would be way better and I think it would match the overall type design better, too (similar thing going on with $ and ¢).

Since Brevier Ten is a typeface for body copy, question is if those broken bars are too hard to read or acceptable.

What do Danish and Norwegian readers think about that? :)

Jongseong's picture

Have you tried the bar only through the centre counter and not extending outward? I've seen that variant in some Danish designs. (Ølafgur with the O slash doesn't look like a genuine name, by the way.)

Nick Shinn's picture

I'm not Scandinavian, but to me it still looks like a silly mistake by a foreigner who thinks he knows what's best for others.
Similar to a recent thread about the lslash.

Jennifer E. Dahl's picture

I speak Danish (it's pretty rusty these days so perhaps I should say I USED to speak Danish)

I agree this would be too difficult to read in body copy but a cool idea in display or as a logo. It would be nice to include it as an alternate.

But as already stated I'd be interested in what the Danes have to say on the topic. Where are all the Danes today?

Si_Daniels's picture

>Where are all the Danes today?


...or welcoming back Olympic heroes?

blank's picture

I try to think of instances like this as important parts of the visual cadence of a written language. We shouldn’t try eliminating that character for the sake of obsessing over technical notions of what makes for perfect color, more legible type, etc.. People read just fine with all these little imperfections, and can even read just fine under dreadful conditions such as comic books that use handwriting fonts, in all caps, with centered type, on horrid paper. If you aren’t designing type system with special legibility requirements then just relax.

Jongseong's picture

I actually think this kind of solution is fine when you have a bold typeface and the counter space is small. The black weight of Sauna does this. Then the mind has no problem filling in the missing detail of the slash through the counter.

In this instance, however, the counter space is big and I think too much of the slash would be missing, hindering recognition.

Bendy's picture


Nick Shinn's picture

You bar is too thick in the lower case ø.

Jennifer E. Dahl's picture

Hey Nick,
Is your comment based on established rules or aesthetic opinion? Please forgive my ignorance. Just curious.

Roger S. Nelsson's picture

Speaking as a norwegian: NO, this is not working. Not at all. To a native reader it is just really annoying.
But by all means include it in the font as a stylistic or titling alternate - it looks kinda cool and could perhaps be used for effect, even though it is unreadable for running text.
The slash should always cross the O completely. For bolder weights the tight counter space may call for more creative solutions like this, of course - but such a glyph design for a light weight is not good. It may look clever and stylish, but it just shows ignorance about the languages it is used for.
Nice typeface, though - very open and friendly. :)

Nick Shinn's picture

Jennifer, ask yourself if it looks right, and check what general practice is.
Say Times or Helvetica.
The slash in the lower case ø is thinner than in the upper case Ø.
It's not a rule or an opinion, just the way most people think looks right.

Jennifer E. Dahl's picture

Thanks Nick!
I've haven't set Danish type before so actually haven't paid that much attention to the intricacies of those specific forms.

Nick Shinn's picture

I haven't set Danish type, or whatever, but I believe that while letter shapes are very language specific, typographic proportion is universal (at least within the broad Latin/Cyrillic/Greek scripts). So if the lower case "o" has a relationship with the upper case "O", then the thickness of the slash will share the same relationship, and be thinner in the lower case ø.

David Waschbüsch's picture

Thank you all for your advice. :)

@Nick: I am not so sure about that. My "o" has just the same thickness then "O", so no relationship in thickness there. Furthermore you would not try to make small caps thinner, just because they where smaller. However I will try a thinner bar here. :)

Frode Bo Helland's picture

The ø/Ø bar can be tricky. I tend to break it up in three separate parts: two outside and one inside, and rotate the inside one ever so slightly. Sometimes it needs some nudging to look right, and quite often the inside part benefits from a slight reduction in weight.

Jongseong's picture

I have to agree with Nick here. Your "o" may have the same thickness as the "O", but its counter is also smaller, so that a slash of the same actual thickness looks thicker. You have nice open forms so using the same stroke thickness for lowercase and uppercase may work in general, but in the "ø" the stroke density is greater so you do need the optical correction. Squint and try to compare the apparent thickness of the two slashes.

David Waschbüsch's picture

Convinced. I'll work on this. :)

Elias's picture

I can only agree with most of what has been said already (I'm Danish). The ø without the bar in the counter has been seen before (for example in the logo of Føroya Banki. The Faroese use ø as well) and would be definitely be idenfied as an ø. Only problem is that it attracts too much attention. So it really depends on the purpose of your typeface. For a corporate typeface it might work, for body copy it is far more distracting than a slight uneveness in colour.

Regarding the colour, pay attention to Frode's advice. It might be necessary to break the bar in three (but not always), whereas it is almost always necessary to thin the strokes of the o where the bar crosses.

Bon courage.

Queneau's picture


I don't speak danish, but I do think that the Ø is more than simply an alternate version of O, it's a character of it's own, just like Ü, Ä, Ö etc. in german. It would be wrong to treat these as 2nd rate. I think it looks quite interesting for a logo, but would not work for texts. I think the real challenge here is to work with the Ø and create it in such a way that it doesn't become to dark, or too cluttered. I think it's very much a question of optics. You could work with a tapered stroke, or ink traps to avoid too much density. Consider it a challenge, rather than a hassle.


Thomas Phinney's picture

Einfach writes: My "o" has just the same thickness then "O", so no relationship in thickness there. Furthermore you would not try to make small caps thinner, just because they where smaller.

Actually, I might. I certainly would today, even if I haven't always.

When I was learning the basics of type design, I spent a lot of time opening existing fonts and examining details of how curves were drawn, thicknesses of different parts of letters, etc. I recommend it.

Just for a comparison, vertical stroke thicknesses in a few typefaces, especially but not only sans serifs.

Adobe Garamond Pro Regular
D: 82
d: 74
small cap D: 76

Hypatia Sans Pro Regular
D: 81
d: 78
small cap D: 81
(if I were re-doing it today, I'd probably make the small caps a tiny bit thinner.)

Franklin Gothic Book
D: 171
d: 157

Myriad Pro Regular:
D: 87
d: 88 (!)

Helvetica LT Std
D: 97
d: 88

D: 172
d: 166
small cap D: 170

D: 163
d: 155
small cap D: 157

Bendy's picture

So who can explain Myriad then?

John Hudson's picture

I generally make the strokes of my smallcaps equivalent in weight to those of my lowercase.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

I often find small caps too light in use. I wonder if one perhaps should add some weight (more than usual), especially if they are tracked wider than lc.

dezcom's picture

Part of the smallcap thickness is playing the counter space against the stroke width to end up with even color with lowercase. The more open your counters, the thicker your stroke. The closer your counter width to that of the lowercase, the closer your stem width as well.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Good point, Chris.

eliason's picture

So does anyone vary thickness of vertical strokes by letter--for example, having the stems of a single-story /a/ and a /q/ differ, or of an /E/ and an /H/?

Bendy's picture

Yes. On my Mixteca, the K looked too dark with the stem the same weight as L, so it's three units slimmer. Glyphs like B and R are in between.

dezcom's picture

Craig: I sometimes vary the vertical stem of the cap B from the H in bolder weights because it is so dense--
Also, the double-story g from other lowercase letters for the same reason.

Jongseong's picture

So does anyone vary thickness of vertical strokes by letter--for example, having the stems of a single-story /a/ and a /q/ differ, or of an /E/ and an /H/?

I find myself doing that, especially in bolder weights where difference in the crowdedness of strokes is more obvious.

In CJK type design, where stroke density can vary significantly between glyphs, varying the thickness of strokes to compensate is one of the first things you learn.

John Hudson's picture

Craig: So does anyone vary thickness of vertical strokes by letter

Oh, of course. One of the phenomena I find fascinating is that straight lines of different length not only may appear to be of different thicknesses, when they are actually identical, but that a long line may appear thicker than a shorter line in some situations but thinner in other situations. This is affected not only by whether the line is vertical or horizontal, but also by what else is happening in the glyph, i.e. it's an aspect of overall spatial frequency.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Sure, can happen. That's why I picked the "regular" weight and relatively "non-busy" letters for my examples.


stimopo's picture


I am a Danish designer and whereas I do appreciate your experimentation I do think it 'feels' better when the bar extends through the centre of the letterforms... but hey thumbs up for trying something different :)

hrant's picture

I haven't read all the comments, but: what about making the
bar as two "stakes" going through the "o"? Think of the bar
as a diagonal "pipe" character.


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