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Example test words for aesthetics - and umlauts too

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Mili, can you explain why the umlauts are so wrong in that face? I am just reying to make sure I do them correctly in my own typeface designs and don't make the same mistake.


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I mean the one in all caps with the umlauts "embedded" in the font, so that the A part looks smaller than the rest of the letters. I just find it ugly and difficult to read.

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William Berkson

Hi Kent, great to see you on typophile once again. I only see the diaresis a bit on the PDF on your personal site. There it seems that the i dot is only slightly higher than the dieresis. What I do notice especially is that you've given a comfortable amount of 'air' between the letters and the dieresis. As excessive tightness is one of the 'bad' features that Lari illustrated, perhaps this is what the Finns liked about your handling of the dieresis or umlaut. At any rate, with your example and the Meta regular weight, I have a pretty good idea of where to go.


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Choz Cunningham

I'm late to the party, but I have to say I use my name not out of vanity, but because I have a good solid idea of what it should look like virtually any face, even if I've never seen it before. More precisely, in a new face, I can tell instantly if it looks like it should more quickly than just about any other phrase.

Another trick is, how does the font's name look? If that doesn't look right, either the name or the characters are all wrong.

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Grot Esqué

Eben, Mili was talking about the umlauts in the all caps section. The treatment Mili showed is quite common in low res matrix screens, unfortunately.

William, I don’t think the dots have to be strictly aligned.

Another annoying but thankfully not common way is placing the umlauts under the x height. Like this:

It would be very nice to have some one named Erik Spiekermann to share their views.

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There is always going to be a tension for screen type about how much x & cap height you carve out vs how much space is left for diacritics. Aringacute is a killer.

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Choz Cunningham

Isn't that only as long as screen resolution is far poorer than print? I keep hearing about electronic ink, IBM's advances in scree resolution, and other technology, though little has come to market yet. But, supposing the mass market gets 300+ dpi and higher screens, won't that make things even?

I know that there is nothing like the present, but it seems that all the hinting in the world is possibly just a stopgap.

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It is a stop-gap in some sense yes, to be sure. I see your point I think. More rez more subtlty and less being forced. That's true up to a point. But even if you magically get a device with greater rez than paper - ( say what? - it's just an agrgument - hang in there ) the deeper tension between elements is going to remain. 300+dpi can't make things 'even'. Why?

If you know your going to carry umlauts in your design it's good to know that from the beginning. If you have a Finnish audience in mind specifically then it's good to know that too. And so on. Think about this : it has been noted that type made for german looks better in german & type made for latin in latin. It's true. There are real reasons for this. Lots of them. All the little details! They all interact. Plus the pattens and habits seen in the language/s supported must be factored in and in that a balance has to be struck. So type made specifically for say Danish if it's well made will express itself in the context of Danish needs and priorities and will look and 'act' differently than one made for English. That is why you have to design for a specific set of circumstances every time.

Think about a custom shoe vs a really well designed shoe made for the masses. They will both have alot in common, and might both be plenty good but if the level of quality is the same something made to fit youspecifically will always 'suit you' better.

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Yes Eben, so true.

That is one handicap of the international market, the typedesigners try to design new faces that fit the bill for all markets.
Example, i have to reduce the wordspacing in "nearly every" typeface coming from e.g. GB or USA, when it comes to textsetting in german language. Wordspacing would be "correct" for english or french generally, but not for german. Ok, this is no big thing, but it has to be made.

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>Wordspacing would be “correct” for english or french generally, but not for german.

Is this because the capital letters need more space before them? Or is because German words are longer?

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thierry blancpain

if you need any more german words with umlauts, give a shout - i could make poms list a bit longer if needed. though not with eszetts, because in switzerland we dont use that glyph (even when writing books in high german - its out of use here).

if you make a long s, make extended kerning tests, it often sucks from what i've seen (altough i dont know many people who'd use a long s in anything than a blackscript).

as said, Chuchichäschtli can be a real killer. Östrogen could be a nice test, too (its the main female hormone). or Önologie, the science of wines.

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What is 'Poms List'?

Thanks for additional test words! Do you have words where Ö is doubled? What about where it appears at the end of a word? Is suspect the answer is no but...

Since you guys know what I am talking about I would love to hear what accomodations you may habe noticed or made to better intergrate dicritics of various kinds. The other things is that when I was working on some for my latest font the method I used was to try to center the marks on each other to some degree. The dot on the i is the 'exception'. Would you let me know what you think of this attached example? I should note that it's a monospace. Please feel free to tell me if you think it's all wrong. But if so please also say how you would correct it!

Or is because German words are longer?

Does it also have to do with Caps being too dark/heavy in US & UK designed fonts for german setting? I need to get caught up on modern german typesetting.

What kind of relation does the presence of many diacritics in a language have to the ideal length of descenders/ascenders ?

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>Is this because the capital letters need more space before them? Or is because German words are longer?
Hm, less space, because it is more easy to separate words.
Longer german words - yes, you can add this.


For non-german speakers – a nonsense text; "Wortberge" (what is Blindtext called in english?) to get an "original feel" for the "rhythm of german". Maybe you should add an text out of the medical, technical, science field to get the feeling for the real long words .



I brought the list because i thought i could be interesting to see caps followed by an umlaut in real words. Maybe an kerning issue, too.

>Do you have words where Ö is doubled?
I think there is no doubled umlaut, i don't remember

>umlaut at the end
Malmö ist eine Stadt in Schweden. (Malmö is a swedish city.)

>Does it also have to do with Caps being too dark/heavy in US & UK designed fonts for german setting?
Do you mean something like Caslon?

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Grot Esqué

Interiööri, miljöö… not exactly traditional finnish words but…

There are lots of words that end with ö.

I think your diaresis could be heavier but the aring looks splendid! How does the cap look like?

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Nick Shinn

Eben, the zdot will appear in Polish close to i in quite a few words, so IMO it looks like a mistake to have it lower than the i dot. And when you get into Celtic....

As a principle, I'd say it's OK to have umlaut dot accents a tad lower than the i dot, if they're also smaller, and because they're two of them. But really, the dot on the eye IS an accent (note Turkish), so it should be treated consistently.

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thierry blancpain

eben: "poms list" is the list of german words by the user "poms" earlier in this thread. and as he notes, i cant think of any german words ending with an ö or having two ö's after each other. i could probably find a swiss german word doing it, but swiss german is only written in emails and sms, otherwhise it only gets used while talking. but if we write swiss german, we use lots of umlauts.

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Grot Esqué

Oh, they’re quite boring, interior and milieu. There are completely finnish words to be used instead of these. Öland, an island is Sweden is known as Öölanti in Finland. Also the err, am(?), well equivalent is öö, with the exception that the Finnish öö can last several seconds, if you don’t know what to say. Kööri ≈ gang (as in the gang that sometimes ids faces around here).

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