Kerning Figures to Letters

Is kerning Figures to Letters (and Letters to Figures) something that most designers would add to their kerning pairs these days?


  • I only kern some figures to letters like '7th' and a few others. That's all.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,181
    edited September 2020
    Life's too short (and I say that as someone who lives in a country that uses mixed alphanumeric postal codes).
  • I don't know about that "most", but it's a good idea, for a number of reasons (pardon the pun).
  • Figures to letters: no. But a few instances with 7 and, maybe, 2 ( . , ) … and always assure yourself that you don’t kern any tabular figures, how painful it may ever look  :#
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,167
    edited September 2020
    Pretty easy to throw 8 in with the right-side-of-B group, zero and six in with the left-side-of-O group, etc. That can take you pretty far.
  • If Mark does it I’ll do it. I just added another page to my kerning proof.
  • This is what I kern to deal with the most distracting letter/numeral pairs.
  • How heavy would such additional kerning information actually be on a standart Latin Pro font?
  • Vasil, if your font allows combining the figures with existing letter kerning, as Craig suggests, the impact is extremely minimal (a few more glyphs in the initial lookup). Worst case scenario is a couple more look-ups. Technically, this should not be a problem at all. Creating the kern pairs in the first place is a much bigger job.
  • It's tangential, but since I learned it only after the fact: Don't kern Latin figures with RTL scripts' letters (and vice versa). Since the kern pairs would span across scripts those features will never work in a font, even if your font editor might let you pursue such folly.
  • Kerning pairs for Uppercase to superscripts are needed, and figures to superscript letters for ordinals. Note references use superscript figures after letters, and may also use superscript letters. 
  • Michael RafailykMichael Rafailyk Posts: 39
    edited October 18
    What do you think about separating kerning by writing scripts?
    Does this make any sense?
    • Latin to Latin
    • Latin to figures and punctiation (and vice versa)
    • Greek to Greek
    • Greek to figures and punctiation
    • Figures to figures
    • etc.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,181
    Hi Michael. That’s basically the approach I take, although I tend not to kern letters to numerals (because life is short, and the people who would care about such things are probably using software that allows them to manually kern). I create separate kerning lookups for each script, and a shared lookup for numerals-to-numerals.

    At least, that is how I handled it in the Brill types. Some more recent projects use a unified source, in which all the kerning gets rolled into a single set of lookup subtables. I don’t like it, because it is inefficient at the text processing stage, but it is more convenient at the font tool stage.
  • Michael RafailykMichael Rafailyk Posts: 39
    edited October 18
    Thanks for the answer, John, I think about performance too.

    Why did I start thinking about it. I am currently working on a serif face (about 1500 glyphs including Small Caps) and some of the Small Caps characters borrow design elements from lowercase letters, in other words, the shape is close enough to be included in one class. I must say that serifs somewhat unify the shape of characters, and the amount of kerning is reduced. But for the same reason, the number of characters with a similar shape has increased.

    As a result, the right-side class "A" was 69 glyphs, "vwy" — 70, and "bceop" — 198. Not sure if this is too large number for the class. Are there any restrictions and will it affect the rendering speed for the old computers?
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,181
    OTL groups, including kerning classes, can be as big as you like, I think, and should not significantly affect processing speed. I just made some fonts with huge context groups, and they seem to behave fine.
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