Hinting for layered fonts?

Is it a good idea to hint layered fonts?

On the one hand, they will be used together for display purposes, so it’s not really necessary because of the large size, and might even cause strange effects when one layer isn’t snapped to the same alignment as another, when a full page is viewed on screen.

…But on the other hand, if someone wants to use one of the fonts singly, hinting would sharpen things up.

To muddy the waters, it appears that Adobe InDesign performs its own hinting on my iMac screen, “bolding” fonts with unhinted stem widths, thereby obscuring decorative details. (This doesn’t occur in the OS application Pages.)

Left: “Inline” Font with no Stem Hints: InDesign fuzzes up the inline.  Right: With Stem hints, InDesign renders more sharply.


  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,855
    Nick, I think what is happening is the exact reverse of what you wrote. Pages is using macOS rendering, which always autohints outlines (and ignores the original hinting if any).

    InDesign uses the hinting built into your font... so in the absence of hints, yes, InDesign’s rendering of this college-outline effect gets worse and key distances are not explicitly maintained. But that isn’t autohinting, I don’t think.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,524
    Thanks Thomas. My brain hurts.

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