Kerning pairs - upper case W and lower case i

weemac's picture

I'm working on a new project for a conference based in Windsor, UK. I'm experimenting with faces like Hoefler Black but I'm struggling with the spacing and kerning between the first two characters of the word Windsor. I'd like tight kerning on the whole word but as you can see with the basic example image (above), the upper case w seems disjointed from the remainder of the word causing an imbalance (to my eyes at least!).
Any input, help and advice from all you Typophiles would be appreciated.


JanekZ's picture


ITC Grouch

weemac's picture

Thanks JanekZ. ITC Grouch looks nice.
So the overlap between the right-hand serif on the W and the tittle of the i is acceptable in typography terms? It might seem like a newby question but somehow I've never worked with this combination of characters before.

Stephen Coles's picture

What about a dotless i? Option-shift-b = ı

Nick Shinn's picture

Goudy Old Style will set real tight, with the diamond-shaped tittle snuggling up to the W.

William Berkson's picture

As well as the option of a dotless i, you can move the dot of the i to the right. This is actually in some old style fonts, derived from calligraphy, and it probably will look pretty "normal", if done with moderation.

weemac's picture

Excellent feedback, chaps. Many thanks.
I'd thought about a dotless i and had even done a test version. As this will be the logotype for the conference, I think I can get away with it too.
I'll do some tests on the moving of the tittle to the right and figure out what the tolerance of positioning is. Watch this space.

nina's picture

You could try making the tittle fuse with a ball terminal.
I mean something like this (rough Photoshop comp):

Then if you make the ball on the "r" a bit rounder too that might echo nicely.

Nick Shinn's picture

Then there is this sort of thing, which suggests a more custom approach to solve the problem. (Scotch Modern Bold Italic with Swash Cap activated.)
With apologies to Hrant for the self-promotion, it was easier than checking out fonts like Emigre's Baskerville and the somewhat derivative Eplica to see if they have the requisite ligature. IIRC there has been another release with such ligatures quite recently.

[Edit: Cross post -- I see Nina has beaten me to the punch!]

nina's picture

The lovely Ingeborg has ligatures like that. (I'm actually not sure if there is a "W_i", but there's things like "V_i" and "N_i" at least in some weights.)

charles ellertson's picture


IIRC there has been another release with such ligatures quite recently.

"If I (read, recall, remember) correctly" has an entirely different meaning than "If I really cared," or "Isn't it really cool" . . . not to mention the other nine from the note at the bottom of the page. While "Incident Investigation and Review Committee" ranks pretty far down, it is a possibility,

Meanwhile, I'm OTD

Nick Shinn's picture

I have always assumed this is standard usage:

But I wonder, which is the most authoritative, er, authority, on such matters?

(BTW, I wouldn't object to "Isn't It Really Cool" in my above sentence!)

weemac's picture

Consider me enlightened.
Having implemented suggestions made by Stephen Coles, nina and Nick Shinn I am more than happy with the result. I can't believe I hadn't thought of this, it seems such an obvious technique to employ. Many thanks guys.


Ball-less "i" with tight kerning between "W" and "i".

Tittle fused with "W" terminal and rounded ball on the "r" (matched to tittle on the "i").

Original form

riccard0's picture

Second one.

nina's picture

Hey, cool!
To my eye the middle one works quite nicely (and the "r" is a subtle but very effective tweak). The only thing I might try is make the W-i-ball slightly bigger.

Nick Shinn's picture

The detailing of the letters is a bit "large" for the finesse of the spacing, in particular the thickness of the stem to which the ball is attached.

This is not a display font, it is designed for small recognition of the characters as wholes; that is why the thin strokes of W are heavier than the joints of n, r and d: because those stems are part of the basic shape of the letters, whereas the thinned joints aren't, and are relatively slight because they will "fill in" with ink or visual bleed. However, at display size, the fine stems and serifs no longer have to strive for attention, and should be scaled back.

I would also consider overlapping some letters --i and n, d and s -- in the manner that the W and tittle have overlapped.

William Berkson's picture

I would also try bumping up the size of the tittle/ball of W.

weemac's picture

So, top one is original form and bottom one is enlarged tittle on "i", modified stem on "W", overlap between "i" and "n" and overlap between "d" and "s". I may have gone a bit too far the other way on the overlap between "d" and "s" and now (to my eyes) it seems to throw out the spacing of "s" and "o" and consequently the "o" and "r".
I tried matching the ball of the "r" with the updated tittle size but it looked plain wrong so I've stuck to the original tweak.


nina's picture

Love the ball and arm of the "W"! Great progress. It nicely reads as both a "W" and an "i" now I think.
I'm not sure about the overlapping thing; to my eye it appears to bind together arbitrary groups of letters (Win|ds|o|r). The «unconnected» version feels more natural to me. On the other hand I agree that for instance the "i" and "n" are very close but not entirely close, which is a bit uncomfortable; but maybe it would be a better idea to shorten some serifs to make sure they clearly *don't* touch? I'm not sure.

John Nolan's picture

I find the ball to be too low; it should visually align with with the top of the d and the serifs on the W.

Nick Shinn's picture

Coming along nicely. I would make the bottom connection of d and s smooth, that tiny "nick" is out of scale with the rest of the piece.

@Nina: appears to bind together arbitrary groups of letters...

And merging W and i (which you suggested) doesn't? You are contradicting yourself.

nina's picture

"And merging W and i (which you suggested) doesn't?"
Indeed, to my eye this is less obtrusive, a less-strong binding (and more decorative); quite comparable to what you would see in say an "f_i" ligature. Whereas making serifs run into each other goes much further, in my eye/mind, into the direction of fusing letters together very strongly.* But hey, YMMV.

* Which I personally find bothersome when it's not consistent. For instance, I've always disliked the concept of the logo of the Swiss Coop supermarket chain – it relies on overlaps between rounds, which you can pull off in «coop»… until you have to do «bank coop» and get holes, which to me just makes the concept fail. Maybe I'm oversensitive, dunno.

William Berkson's picture

I think John got it right on the need for lifting the ball; it seems like it needs a little overshoot compared to the serifs of the W. In between the two sizes somewhere seems like it should work to me.

weemac's picture

So, spacing aside on this one for now (I'll come back to that contentious issue later), I've tried to equalize the height of the stem and tittle based on the advice from John and William.
I've attempted to mirror the drop of the "W" and level it off in the middle, between the top of the "W" and top of the "d".
I find optical alignment over actual alignment thoroughly depends on the designers perception so I fully expect a difference of opinion on this tweak.

William Berkson's picture

I think you've hit it! I mean the solution on the tittle. Personally, I don't like the letters mashed together here, particularly the "in". You've inevitably got a fair amount of white space between the W and i, so I would like it looser. But this is not as important as the "i" solution, which is very nice!

John Nolan's picture

I agree with William about the spacing. I think you could notch the tittle a bit to echo the notch on the r, but that's a pretty small point.

weemac's picture

I think we're there, folks.
Rather than overlapping the "i" and "n" and "d" and "s", I've taken nina's advice and shortened the serifs on the problematic characters so I can keep the spacing as I would like. The final result, to me is almost perfect. I've identified the areas that I have changed for comparison to previous versions.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody that has contributed to this thread.

Arno Enslin's picture

What do you think about this?:

nina's picture

"shortened the serifs on the problematic characters"

Must say I like where you've taken this. Although I might shave a little more off those serifs (also depending on how small you need to set this logo); those gaps seem a little apologetic compared to the overall boldness and «largeness» of the shapes. The gaps in the original one you posted seemed more «natural» to my eye. But maybe it's just me.

weemac's picture

@ nina
You're absolutely right about the problems I encounter when scaling the logotype. I've experimented and if I scale to less than 40mm in print (and 200px on screen), the characters join optically anyway. I'm reluctant to shave any more off the outer serifs as I don't want them to become smaller that the inner ones. If I do start to go down that road, it may have a negative knock-on effect as I'll have to alter all serifs to match the tweak. I don't want to potentially spoil something that is almost perfect for the sake of decimal points' worth of spacing (and my stubbornness!).
What I've done is simply increase the spacing on "i" and "n" and "d" and "s" to compensate although, looking at the rendered jpeg again, could perhaps push a little more (shown in figures 2 & 3).

@ John Nolan
Figure 1 shows the notch modification on the stem of "W" and tittle, which I completely agree with and have carelessly overlooked.

@Arno Enslin
It's an interesting concept as I can see the notch where the missing stem used to be could slip nicely into the space between the left hand serifs on the "i".
But... my eyes simply see a hybrid "X" with some sort of radioactivity induced growth or prosthesis!

William Berkson's picture

To my taste, squeezing everything so tightly is not a gain. I would loosen it to more normal spacing, and not cut the serifs, or only slightly.

PabloImpallari's picture

How about this one?

Nick Shinn's picture

It looks like you're happy with what you've done.
Time for closure.

weemac's picture

@ Nick Shinn Time for closure.

Agreed. More than happy. Thank you for your input.

Syndicate content Syndicate content