Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 12th Jan 2010 13:31 UTC
Graphics, User Interfaces Every now and then on OSNews, we discuss typography and language. Despite the fact that many think it's not relevant for computing - it most certainly is. Whether you're browsing the web, reading email, or chatting over IM - the most common element on your computer screen is typography. Today, I want to discuss something we barely have in my native language: small capitals.
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More 'info' needed
by deathshadow on Thu 14th Jan 2010 23:26 UTC
deathshadow
Member since:
2005-07-12

As there are some omissions/inaccuracies.

First off, for those of you not familiar with all the typography terminology, here's a GREAT reference.

http://www.paratype.com/help/term/le.htm

TECHNICALLY it is NOT an EX that small-caps is supposed to use. Small-caps are supposed to use the meanline as their top, which is the same line used as a guide for most lower case letters. Since a lower-case X can through serifs and other embellishments go below the baseline and above the meanline, it's size is not an accurate indicator of where the mean-line is. x-height does not always equal the distance between the meanline and the baseline.

Of course, all the different renderers treating it differently doesn't help, but the biggest problem is none of these font engines or formats HAVE a value for the meanline or x-height to be stored! This pretty much means that it's up to every program to randomly figure out what it's going to use - since small-caps isn't even officially recognized as a font-style by the rendering engines.

Yes, you heard me right, if that font style is applied, it's the program handling it, NOT the font engine in the OS. This means for the most part, the size is a complete guesstimate.

Which you can see since Firefox, OpenOffice and any Microsoft software will all give you radically different appearances on text formatted the same way. (Netscape legacy small-caps being among the worst out there, since the 'lower case' small-caps appear to be half a EM in height)

It gets REALLY stupid when OpenOffice is involved, since it appears to use freetype or some other internal engine for kerning and determining the size of text even when using truetype to render glyphs on windows. (****ing brilliant - NOT) Part of why i t oft en h as prob lem s with spacin g! (and why I find OoO completely useless when working with text for any length of time)

But that goes back to what I said on that page two article about font sizes - if you are wanting pixel-perfect identical appearance of fonts across platforms/software/hardware targets, you're in the wrong business, and kind of missing the entire point of digital media.

Edited 2010-01-14 23:27 UTC

Reply Score: 2