[tex-fonts] Re: [texhax] On the proper look of the \AA

Lars Engebretsen enge at nada.kth.se
Tue Feb 10 02:14:06 CET 2004

<CyrTeX-ru at vsu.ru> (Vladimir Volovich) writes:

> you mean that e.g. to achieve the "gapless Aring" using the \accent
> command, it would be possible to put the ring accent somewhat lower?
> are you sure that this approach will work properly for both small and
> capital letters?
> (If it would be possible to do that, i wonder then why Don Knuth
> didn't use this approach when he wanted to create a special look for
> the Aring glyph. And why did he decide to make Aring a special case in
> the first place)

This discussion is a bit old now, but I though that I'd share my
thoughs on this last question with you. We can, of course, only
speculate about the real reason Knuth made Aring a special case.
I have a few guesses:

1) Generally, a font should have both "normal" accents, suitable for
   lower case letters, and "capital" accents, suitable for upper case
   letters. For instance, the acute accent should probably be more
   horizontal in its upper case version. Now, it was (is?) an accepted
   practice to not write accents on upper case letters in, e.g.,
   French, and the diaeresis accent does not occupy much vertical
   space, so for most Plain TeX accents it did not matter that there
   are no designated upper case accents. The Aring glyph, however, was
   somehow important enough to catch Knuth's attention. Maybe he
   considered the glyph primarily as the Ångström symbol and not a
   "normal letter", since (as far as I know) he neglected support for
   uring in Plain TeX, a glyph needed (I think) for Czech.

2) The Aring glyph does not occur very often. As far as I know it
   exists only in Scandinavian languages and, moreover, it is very
   rare as a first letter in a word. In fact, it is mostly seen in
   titles on book or magazine covers or in advertisements, i.e., as
   part of a logotype. In this case it is not uncommon to see an
   attached ring, especially if the logo is based on a sans serif font
   (consider for instance the logotype of the Swedish department store
   Åhléns). For running text, however, I maintain that the detached
   version is the norm.

3) It could be the case that the "Modern" typefaces normally had an
   attached ring, I don't know. I did not find any classical books
   printed in original "Modern" style typefaces.

Hope this is of interest,


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