calculating word space

The one glyph that I've never been confident in designing is the word space. 

I'm currently working on a extended sans and the word space presents a quandary.

How do you do it?


  • Frank Blokland discusses word spacing in Chapter 5 of his dissertation starting on page 121.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,128
    edited August 2023
    I fine tune by comparing paragraphs with different H&J settings—one can modify the “word space” width in this manner, without having to generate separate fonts.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    The CSS word-spacing property seems poorly conceived, and I wonder if its existence contributed to or is symptomatic of the thinking that led browser makers to apply OpenType Layout at the word-by-word level, preventing cross-space contexts or shaping that affects the /space glyph itself?
  • Wait, word-spacing "normal" sets it to 1/4 em? So “normal” means “ignore the font data”?! But if you don’t explicitly set word-spacing, it… what, accepts the font’s word-spacing, which would make the default behavior and "normal" two different things? 🤯

    I must be misunderstanding this. Surely.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,940
    Yes, I think the word-spacing property is only active if explicitly used in the CSS code, otherwise font spacing is used (but some browsers may still break OTL at every word space).

    Some CSS properties make a distinction between Auto and Normal; word-spacing doesn’t seem to have an Auto setting, but I think that is on the assumption that the property is only used if one wants to affect the word spacing to be something other than the font metrics.

    Also note that is not associated with the World Wide Web Consortium, and is not an official or necessarily up-to-date source of CSS specification.
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