Kerning of .otf files in MS Word 2011 and MS Word 2016 (v 16.16) Mac

Somehow the kerning of an .otf file doesn't show up in MS Word 2016 (v 16.16) Mac.
In MS Word 2011 (Mac) it works correctly. 
Anyone knows how to fix it or what could be the reason etc.?


  • This is a(nother) weird one but this will make it work: Go to Font, Advancend and then choose “Use contextual alternates”. (Kerning for font XX Points and above has to be ticked as well.)
  • Thanks! Yes that works! Crazy.
    So I need to prepare a special instruction sheet for the client, great!

    I just realised that, somehow my .otf had no "kern" table. (only a GPOS)
    After adding/copying the kern table (e.g. from another .otf generated with another font editor) it worked as well (without the "Use contextual alternates")
    But I am not sure if this can cause problems.

  • It might be related to issue #6 from our OpenType Layout Feature Support Differences:

    If a font only contains a DFLT script, then both Windows 10 and Word (version 1701) won't use the kern feature. However Word will use it if you also enable another OpenType feature (e.g. Ligatures or Stylistic Sets)!
  • I've seen this problem with fonts that also explicitly declare 'latn' script support. Still need to enable something else to get kerning to work, on latest Word for Mac. Microsoft is aware of the issue—I reported it again in January.
  • Thank you very much, @Erwin Denissen & @Thomas Phinney.
  • Am I also correct that one has to check the "Kerning for fonts" checkbox to get kerning to work?
  • @Ben Kiel yes, one has to activate kerning manually, it is not active by default, at least that was my experience with these two apps.
  • @Lukas Schneider I thought so, but wanted to double check my assumption: thank you!
  • Yes, that too. It just isn’t always enough to do so.
  • Oh, and at least on the Mac, make sure the file format is .docx, else kerning of .OTF won’t work.
  • @Ben Kiel & @Thomas Phinney, thanks again!
    It seems that MS Word activates kerning of .ttf files (with a kern table) without the additional check of the "Use contextual alternates" checkbox.
    Anyone has experience with things like exchanging documents, which uses either .ttf or .otf.
    I mean if one creates a .docx that contains font.otf and tries to open it on a cpu that has only font.ttf installed? (and vice versa)
    Will MS Word (Office or other apps) complain, that font.otf or font.ttf is not installed? (although I already assume that it will complain)
  • Many thanks again @Thomas Phinney - pretty insightful!
  • Thomas Phinney said:
    If the font is not there at all, all the Microsoft Office apps will silently substitute another font for it. The document opens fine, without warnings. Putting your cursor in the text displays the name of the intended font in the Font drop-down menu, while silently substituting something else.
    This has always disturbed me. It feels like the app is lying to me.
    LibreOffice handles this situation better: the missing font's name is displayed in italics.
  • Belleve InvisBelleve Invis Posts: 269
    edited February 2019
    In W/X/P there is a distinction between "simple" and "complex" text runs: in a simple run W/X/P will not run full shaping process, while in complex mode it will. Enabling Contextual Substitution will force Word to run text in complex mode so the features will be enabled.

    So why simple text mode exists? For performance, of course (yes shaping is a very slow process).
  • Khaled HosnyKhaled Hosny Posts: 284
    edited February 2019
    Firefox and Chrome used to have this simple text/complex text distinction, but eventually both killed it for good. Performance for so called complex text benefited from the optimization that resulted from forcing everyone to use the (what used to be) slow path and so called simple text benefited from having good typography enabled by default.
  • I'm guessing that “W/X/P” means Word/Excel/PowerPoint.
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