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Fonts and fractional point sizes

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ruralmontanan

Hi, folks. New to the site and relatively new to font obsession. I am working on a personal side project in which I’m designing a font similar to Imperial, used by the New York Times for their body copy. I was taking a look at their sizing and letter spacing, trying to replicate it on a site in Webflow, but it looks like in some cases they are using fractional points for both font size and letter spacing. Webflow is not allowing me to do fractional points beyond half points, so it got me wondering what determines that—is it the font that would have any sizing restrictions or the software? Seems like that would be a limitation of the software—perhaps if I’m using my own code outside the software I wouldn’t have this limitation? Also, are there any downsides to using fractional points with regards to web design and various browsers these days, or was that an older concern that’s now obsolete? Many thanks.

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Ralf Herrmann

Are you talking about the New York Times website or their printed issues?

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ruralmontanan

Looking at their print editions. They use Cheltenham for most of their headlines and Imperial for the body copy.

D2C4FA56-EDC4-49EE-8BBD-A7991EFFCBDE.jpeg

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Ralf Herrmann

I found a PDF online and checked it with Acrobat. You are right. The font sizes are all fractional. As a graphic designer, I would usually try to avoid that for the sake of consistency and to make calculations easier, but in a technical sense, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. When the fonts are rendered on screen or for an offset plate, it wouldn’t work any differently for a 9.00 point font vs. a 9.01 point font. 

Bildschirmfoto-2022-10-07-um-07.37.38.gif

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ruralmontanan

Thanks for confirming that. What do you think the restrictions I’m hitting are with only being able to size them in half points on my end? Is this a limitation with the Imperial font I’ve downloaded perhaps or the software? Seems to me like it would be the software, but I’m a rookie here so any insight is appreciated.

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  • 4 weeks later...
Edwin Bradford

The restriction will be artificially enforced by Webflow, I author directly in HTML and CSS and I've used  "floating point numbers" (decimal points) many times across multiple projects. Webflow will most likely have done it for aesthetic reasons so the input field for the number doesn't contain values that are too long.

 

Not sure if it helps or you're interested but there are all kinds of tools that generate a Typographic Scale of font sizes based on the ratio you supply. Any such tool will generate fractional values unless the ratio you supply is two or the tool rounds the final value. My apologies if you know all this. Again I'm making an assumption but I assume that The New York Times just decided to retain floating points and not round them.

 

To round or not to round is an interesting question. The way I feel about it is a glyph is designed on a 1000, 1024 or even a 2048 UPM so fractional point values are completely legitimate and its up to you.

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  • very interesting! 1
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