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Re: [css3-fonts] ordinals vs. superiors

From: John Hudson <tiro@tiro.com>
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2013 14:17:31 -0700
Message-ID: <52210BEB.8080700@tiro.com>
CC: www-style@w3.org
On 30/08/13 1:57 PM, fantasai wrote:

> It seems wrong to me if Mlle is typeset with superscripts that rise above
> the cap height line. Which is what 'font-variant-position: superscript' is,
> I believe, expected to do (because otherwise it would be wrong for the
> semantic-superscript cases that it's designed for).

A practical distinction needs to be made between common typography 
(typical natural language setting) and specialist typography (e.g. 
scientific or mathematical setting). In common typography, superior and 
superscript are treated as synonymous terms, and common fonts will 
usually support a single style and alignment for small, raised letters 
and numerals. Specialist typography usually requires specialised fonts 
and, often, specialised layout engines and software. So, for example, 
the MS Cambria Regular font contains a set of superior letters and 
numerals accessed via the <sups> OTL feature -- these are what I would 
expect to be used in common typographic settings such as some formatting 
of abbreviations -- while the Cambria Math font contains two sets of 
scaling superscript letters whose displayed size and alignment depends 
on the MS math layout engine.

I presume the QuarkXpress distinction between superior and superscript 
that you cited earlier is documentation of software functionality, i.e. 
it describes what two different settings in the application will produce 
in terms of scaling and alignment. I also presume that this 
functionality is independent of anything in the font lookup tables and, 
indeed, probably predates any OpenType mechanism.

With all that in mind, I'm not sure whether I would actually expect CSS 
to make such a distinction or, if it were to, whether I'd expect any 
font to be able to provide for that distinction independent of 
specialised layout such as that implemented in the MS math engine. For 
the great bulk of text that is subject to common typography, I would 
expect <sups> to be either sufficient and acceptable, or users to 
complain to their font providers.

Received on Friday, 30 August 2013 21:18:13 UTC

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