Articles or sources on letter widths


Looking for articles on construction of letter widths.

Example E, F, L share the same width. 


  • Luke Freeman
    Ignore above image, unsure how to delete. Image below is the example, I'm referring.

  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,804
    edited February 2017
    When you say "letter widths" do you mean the marking width (the black part of the letter) or the advance width (the total space allocated the letter, including any white space)?

    As a for-example, let's say that the marking width of the E, F, L were identical (typically not, as the lowest bar of the E is usually widest so the F is narrower, but just for the sake of argument, pretend they were all three the same). The F would still usually have less advance width because it would be allocated less right sidebearing. The L would have even less right sidebearing and be narrowest in advance width. Even if all three had the same black body width.
  • Bhikkhu Pesala
    I see no benefit from imposing any constraints on the letter's contour width or the advance width. Only figures 0-9 and maths symbols like + = × ÷ have good reasons to be constrained to a single advance width. 
  • Johannes Neumeier
    You might be referring to proportions rather than widths, i.e. what relation the widths of different letters have, in relation to each other, and in relation to their height.

    Based on the image you pasted I suggest you look into resources relating to roman inscriptional lettering, or capitalis monumentalis. You'll find many resources as to how the square base form of capital letters relates to classical proportions. Later neoclassical thinkers have, of course, revived this idea, for example Dürer or the Romain du roi, which are highly geometric in their underlying structure and construction.

    If you are looking for printed matter to study, I can recommend The Eternal Letter, which contains a lot of different essays and writing that all centres around roman inscriptional lettering and its present descendants and implications - although it is naturally not a treatment of proportions, exclusively. 

    Hope these pointers are helpful ;)
  • Luke Freeman
    Thanks all,

    I have some insight of the Romain du roi structure and construction.

    Proportions is what I was referring to, as I'm designing a bastardised font but I seem to have various widths some letters feel slightly smaller by width. Feel I need to refresh my type design knowledge to critique my work. 

    Johannes, I have always had the The Eternal Letter on the "back burner" as book to read, should actually buy a copy.

    Mainly looking for links discussing letter proportions, from a more modern perspective of type design.