Missing ASCII circumflex from font changes typeface after typing circumflex-accented glyph

Mathieu Christe's picture

Hello,

I've used a font in Microsoft Word, which works fine except when I need to type circumflex-accented glyphs.
In general, I've noticed that when you type a circumflex, before typing the letter you want to accentuate, you temporarily get the ASCII circumflex. Then, when you type the letter, say "a", the correct circumflex is used in the pre-built accented glyph.
So, in the present case, when I type "^" plus "a", Microsoft Word changes to Times. This behaviour rang a bell, so I opened the font in FLS and the ASCII circumflex is missing from the problematic font file. My assumption is that as Word can't find that glyph (ASCII circumflex), it switches to another default font.

2 questions:

– Is it a Microsoft Word "bug"?

– How can you avoid such a problem if you design a typeface and don't feel like drawing the ASCII circumflex?

Thanks & best,

Mathieu

Mark Simonson's picture

I would say this is a bug in the font. How hard is it to draw an ASCII circumflex?

Mathieu Christe's picture

Thanks for your answer. It's not hard to draw it but if you can avoid to… especially if nobody will ever use it, say in the case of a custom font for a client.
Anyway, if I understand correctly, you presume that a font should work fine without that missing ASCII circumflex glyph.

Mark Simonson's picture

From your description of the symptoms, I would say yes. I would also point out that this is not a character that no one ever uses—you used it yourself when you typed the sequence for acircumflex. Leaving out a standard character that applications expect to be present, you risk having things like this occur. Whatever benefits you think it may provide, it's probably not worth it, as your problem illustrates.

blokland's picture

Hello Mathieu,

[...] when you type a circumflex, before typing the letter you want to accentuate, you temporarily get the ASCII circumflex.

I have no idea which MS Word version you are using, but typing first the accent and then the characters makes it sound like Mac stuff. When I typed the alt + i combination before a character in Word X (it is old, I know) I got the circumflex (uni02c6) first and not the asciicircum (uni005e). So, this beats me.

My assumption is that as Word can’t find that glyph (ASCII circumflex), it switches to another default font.

The use of a fallback font in such a case is not specific for MS Word, I reckon.

[...] especially if nobody will ever use it.

There comes a day that somebody wants to use your asciicircum as an operator for exponentiation.

Mark: Leaving out a standard character that applications expect to be present [...]

Are there applications that expect certain characters to be present in a font?

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Mark Simonson's picture

Well, perhaps not explicitly, but missing characters can cause problems that may be confusing to users, as this case illustrates.

blokland's picture

Mark: [...] missing characters can cause problems that may be confusing to users [...]

With the current open standard for glyph sets that exceeds the single byte encodings, it is hard to define what is exactly missing. Personally I would not mess with the code page(s) a font is supposed to cover, and especially not with the ASCII set.

That being said, I deliberately messed with our single byte Turkish small caps fonts (PS Type1, TrueType, no OTL features), in which I placed a dot on the i. To be honest, I am still not sure whether that was the best thing to do, but it seemed the most logical solution to me at that time.

As many of you probably will remember, in the early days of PostScript fonts some designers chose font specific encoding to circumvent the automatic insertion of the Symbol set in a font with Adobe Standard Encoding, and used the vacant slots for for instance extra ligatures. Changing fonts could lead to surprising results this way, as one can imagine.

In the old (1989) AGFA Compugraphic Typeface Design Criteria Manual an extra function for an alternate variant of the ‘ASCII Circumflex’ character is mentioned: ‘Character should center on character 7281 (alternate vertical bar) so these form an arrow when used together’.

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Mark Simonson's picture

I was thinking primarily of the ASCII set as being "expected".

Mathieu Christe's picture

Hello Frank,

Nice to read from you and thanks for you technical expertise (after all the drawing one at the KABK).

I'm using the latest Office 2011 version but I'm not typing the accented characters with the special combination of keys. I basically type the key that show a circumflex, apparently it's the ASCII one on my Mac keyboard, and then the letter I need to accentuate.

It makes sense to try complying to a "standard" character set and this example definitely proves that.

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