Some newbie questions about Greek

Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 651
edited March 2018 in Technique and Theory
I fancy to design some Greek supplement for one of my fonts. is it true that Greek stem width has to be slightly thinner than Latin, and if so, by what logic?

Also, I checked the very calming Gerry Leonidas lecture at Graham '17 and would like to know if there is somewhere a list of possible letter combinations for smallcaps. As far as I understand capitalized Greek vowels are only stressed at the beginning of words, so no need for kerning them to preceding letters (writing here about both caps and smallcaps)
Also, is the lc italic basically a slanted version with minor modifications?
I am also searching for as list of Greek ligatures to provide wider options for the buyers of the font.

The question about stem width is most important for me.

Thanks in advance!


  • John SavardJohn Savard Posts: 844
    edited March 2018
    Although I am not qualified to answer this question, given the example of Times 827 for use in France, modified because certain typefaces were very popular in that country, suggests to me that if the stems should be thinner for Greek, it would be because the Greek people are habituated to certain typefaces which have thinner stems.

    There is more information on this here.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,172
    With regard to accented caps and smallcaps:

    The modern convention of writing accents for caps is to write them to the left of the letter, rather than above it. This is why the accents on caps only appear at the beginning of words, and are suppressed in all-caps. This is a relatively recent convention: I've not seem examples prior to the 19th Century. In Byzantine Greek uncials, the accents are placed above the letters, and in earlier Greek type they sometimes appear above and sometimes to the right (!) of the caps, even in all-caps settings.

    Smallcaps are an interesting case. Historical examples exist of smallcaps being used to transcribe Byzantine uncial, with accents above. So my approach in fonts is to provide smallcap diacritic glyphs with accents above the letters, but to contextually suppress these by default. If users wants to display the accents, they can turn off the <calt> feature.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,172
    With regard to Greek stem weight:

    This relates to the modulation pattern of the script, which traditionally reflected a broad nib pen rotated at a steeper angle than typical for Latin (and often less consistent than in Latin formal writing). This produces thinner vertical strokes and heavier horizontal strokes.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,095
    Agree with John’s comment about the Greek stem weight—but note also that (as far as I understand it) this is only true for the lowercase; caps generally still get the same stress as Latin.
  • Emilos,
    thank you! This answers my questions. :)
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