Diacritical Opinion...

Typogruffer's picture

Hey Guys,
While designing diacritics for a font I am currently working on, I stumbled across a small problem. When using the acute accent over A and E, the accent appears smaller on E (PFA image). I am purposefully using smaller accents (rather than the original accent character) for Uppercase letters. Is it OK if I modify the accent on E to make it look bigger. Is this act of rule braking acceptable?

AttachmentSize
Diacritics suggestion.JPG18.91 KB
David Vereschagin's picture

How glyphs look should always trump the numbers in type design. The values you set up for stem widths, x-heights, overshoots, standard accents, et cetera are all only guidelines, not absolutes. If something looks too big or small, wide or thin, even though it follows the standards you’ve set for the font, make the optical adjustments to make it look right.

David

oldnick's picture

I must be missing something, because they both look the same size to me. Of course, I may be wrong; it wouldn’t be the first time…

hrant's picture

I guess that's an optical illusion, which I for one had never considered*. Sure, the eye is king, but time is money... What I mean is, it might be worth ignoring that minor refinement, especially since accented caps rarely occur close enough for somebody to be bothered by a slight difference in apparent size.

* You see how useful a noob can be? :-)

One notable thing about cap accents though: they're often flatter than the lc equivalents, to reduce collisions with descenders in previous lines. People do mind that.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Agreed on the flatter-for-the-caps thing; another option is ducking caps, but I don’t know how they affect readability.

IIRC, the subject of case-sensitive accents has been discussed before, but I don’t remember some scripting whiz coming up with an easy-to-implement solution to the problem…

Nick Shinn's picture

You accents are too light and too close to the letters.
That is the problem.
They should be inspected in running text.
Remember, you are designing a typeface, not big letters.

Thomas Phinney's picture

What Nick said.

Also, remember that the accents are ~ as important as the letters themselves. They are not just adornments. Some good resources:

http://diacritics.typo.cz/
http://www.microsoft.com/typography/developers/fdsspec/diacritics.htm
http://www.sil.org/~gaultney/ProbsOfDiacDesignLowRes.pdf

Bogdan Oancea's picture

Sorry, but I don't understand how http://diacritics.typo.cz is still recommended as a good reference for designing diacritics, since almost all the diacritics shown in the gray images on the right of the webpages of the site are obviously too big or simply too tall (ok, except the bar, the hook above, the horn, ogonek, the ring and the accents made of dots).
//Later edit: On the other hand, "Problems of diacritic design for Latin script text faces" is an excellent read, thank you.

Thomas Phinney's picture

I can see how you'd think the typo.cz diacritics were a little heavy and tall, mostly. That being said, they provide a useful counterbalance to the common error of making diacritics MUCH too light and wimpy.

Victor's doc is still fabulous, though. :)

T

Bogdan Oancea's picture

Well, most of the time I see oversized diacritics, not undersized, unfortunately, and not only in free fonts… :/

Nick Shinn's picture

… the diacritics shown in the gray images on the right of the webpages of the site are obviously too big …

That appearance might be a result of the greater contrast between the white diacratic and the background grey, than that between the grey letter and the background grey.

Bogdan Oancea's picture

:) You bet I thought about that color difference long before writing this – and no, it's not the contrast responsible for this – most accents on this "recommended" site really are bigger than they should. I'm a Romanian, I know (our) diacritics quite well, and I can spot that pretty easily for our diacritics: for instance, the left and right extrema points of the circumflex and breve in |â| and |ă| should not share the same coordinate with the extrema point of the tear of |a| on the left and with the extrema point of the stem on the right. In other words, these two accents should always be a bit narrower than the upper part of |a|. Also, the comma-below of |ș| and |ț| (s-comma-accent and t-comma-accent, again Romanian diacritics) should most of the time be smaller than the sentence comma, which in the case of the grey images posted on diacritics.typo.cz doesn't seem to be the case, contrast or no contrast. That's why I consider that site to be so misleading for font designers who deal with Latin diacritics.

//Later edit: Even if I feel my complaint about diacritics.typo.cz is completely warranted, maybe I'm slightly off-topic, so just to balance things and not mislead the original poster (typogruffer) by mistake, I'll just say I also agree with Nick Shinn about the accents in your image – indeed they are a bit too light and too close to the letters.

P.S. I'm actually working on a "Romanian Diacritics How-To" PDF. Is it possible to post it here once it's finished?

hrant's picture

You know how Western tourists admire things the natives find annoying? And how some natives act more native than they really are when they move abroad? I think we've been seeing that sort of thing (on/from both sides of the "fence") when it comes to accent size... Restraint, people! :-)

hhp

Té Rowan's picture

"Toltiir, you have got to learn restraint." (Greylle)
"Restraint? Sounds uncomfortable..." (Toltiir)

Syndicate content Syndicate content