Which accents and international characters are necessary?

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PJMiller
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Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby PJMiller » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:16 pm

I am building a font.

I have done the alphabet (both upper and lower) and numbers and the usual punctuation and other characters. But to be really useful to the most number of people I need some accented characters and other unicode characters, Obviously I could go for the full Unicode character set but this wouldb be a LOT of work.

I have added many accented characters already but I have no experience of this, I could be adding characters that hardly anyone will make use of and I could be missing out characters that many people would find useful.

Does anyone have any advice on which characters are essential, which characters are nice to have and which ones are not really worth bothering with?

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Re: Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:59 pm

Recommended Glyphs

It requires some careful thought about your intended customers, and which languages you need your fonts to support. Creating composites is not particularly time-consuming once you have created the base glyphs and the required accents. The Eastern European Transform script will do much of the donkey work for you if you want wider support than average. The default character set for a new font may be sufficient for most users.

The Letters Database is a useful resource.

Latin Basic, Latin-1 Supplement, and Latin Extended-A will provide support for most European languages.
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Re: Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby Erwin Denissen » Mon Jul 27, 2015 7:02 pm

This question is not easy to answer as there are so many scripts, languages, and so many characters. OpenType fonts can't contain all characters, so fonts always contain a subset of Unicode.

FontCreator comes with several useful transform scripts, which add characters for Eastern Europe, Greek, Vietnamese, etc.

This site shows which additional characters are needed to support a specific language:
http://www.eki.ee/letter/
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Re: Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby PJMiller » Mon Jul 27, 2015 8:32 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:Recommended Glyphs

It requires some careful thought about your intended customers, and which languages you need your fonts to support. Creating composites is not particularly time-consuming once you have created the base glyphs and the required accents. The Eastern European Transform script will do much of the donkey work for you if you want wider support than average. The default character set for a new font may be sufficient for most users.

The Letters Database is a useful resource.

Latin Basic, Latin-1 Supplement, and Latin Extended-A will provide support for most European languages.


Yes I looked at the Font Creator help so I have done all the Recommended Glyphs infact the character set of the base font is now more than 500 glyphs, the bold, italic and bold italic fonts still have a way to go to catch up but I still have the feeling that I might have missed something. I included a Greek character set mainly for scientific work which uses Greek letters a lot, but what accented Greek characters would it need for everyday use by Greek people?

Composites are easy to add and I have added a lot. If I have used scaling and transformations in the composites do I need to transforn them to simple glyphs?

The The Letters Database looks like a daunting website at first look.

I have also put a lot of mathematical symbols in there because they were difficult to find when I was writing a paper on set theory and I had to resort to using Ariel Unicode which is a hideous font but had the characters I needed.

As to the audience, I don't know, I think the answer might be - as wide as is easy to achieve.

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Re: Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby Erwin Denissen » Mon Jul 27, 2015 10:06 pm

PJMiller wrote:Composites are easy to add and I have added a lot. If I have used scaling and transformations in the composites do I need to transforn them to simple glyphs?

The Windows TrueType/OpenType scan converter will correctly process scaled and transformed composite glyphs, but if such outlines are converted to Type 1 outlines (e.g. for printing on PostScript devices), this might break. Other tools that display, process, or manipulate outlines might also have bugs in this area as it is not a commonly used way of describing glyph outlines.

15 years ago this was more realistic to happen than nowadays, but sometimes you'd better be safe than sorry.
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Re: Which accents and international characters are necessary?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jul 28, 2015 3:54 am

I avoid using scaling and transformations for composites. The way that superscripts are designed in Complete Composites, for example, is to compose them from digits without scaling. The Superscript Glyph Transform script then:

  1. Completes composites
  2. Decomposes the composites
  3. Scales
  4. Emboldens

This is the right way to create true superscripts.

You may well have good reason to use scaling of composite glyph members, but the same principles apply as for superscripts. The smaller glyphs need to be emboldened after scaling or they are too light for the current typeface.

The Greek fonts that I have (prefixed GFS) have Greek Extended glyphs, but I suspect that Basic Greek is sufficient for the modern Greek language. Greek Extended glyphs would only be needed for writing Ancient Polytonic Greek.

There are only five glyphs in Latin Extended-B that I would recommend adding: small letter f with hook (florin), and Ş ş Ţ ţ, which are used by Romanian. Other characters used in that character set are used by African languages like Hausa, Livonian (an obsolete language), or Skolt Sami (a minority language) or Vietnamese.

If you intend to support Vietnamese be prepared for a lot more work as you will need to add much of Latin Extended Additional with stacking diacritics too.
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