Underline and strikethrough

Hello there!

A client recently asked me about customizing underline and strikethrough values (stroke thickness and position) on a typeface. Even though I knew it was possible, I’ve always heard most apps didn’t really use these custom values.

I couldn’t find much information about this online, so I decided to do a little research to pinpoint what works and what does not in a handful of apps. Just thought to post it here in case it might be helpful to someone else: https://www.harbortype.com/blog/the-state-of-underlines-and-strikethroughs/



  • Affinity Designer is from Serif. The results for PagePlus are similar. In general, PagePlus respects the underline and strikeout positions and weights according to specs. 

    One bug is with the position of a dot-leader tab, which subtracts the weight of the underline from the start position, instead of adding it below the start position. 

    Another is with the position of Superscripts and Subscripts.
  • A note on your
    InDesign actually allows the user to customize every little detail of the strikethrough ...

    ... while InDesign may allow that, it uses a worthless fixed unit for both width and offset: a value in points. That means that you have to set different tailored values for each different point size in which you may or may not want to strike out text.

    The same is true for Underline; the situation for superscript and subscript size and position is even worse, as even though you can use percentages for these, the values are document-wide instead of a more useful per-style or per-font setting.

    Over the past two decades, it has been suggested a couple of times to honor the font designer's values or allow percentage-based settings – and preferably, both. But it seems Adobe is intent to make InDesign in a jack of all trades and master of none, and focuses more on pleasing absolute beginners and integrating one useless fad after another (Flash, QR codes) as 'major useful additions'.

  • The Affinity Publisher Beta is set to start at the end of August if any font designers wants to check out how well it handles font metrics, and to offer some useful feedback. I did test Affinity Designer Beta, but I don't recall how well it handled super/subscripts. It was pretty good at handling OpenType features. 

    I won't be testing Affinity Publisher as the first release will still be missing many essential features for publishing books, which is my primary interest, and for which I use PagePlus X9. Maybe in 3-5 years, it will be a serious player in the DTP market. 
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