WSTech: Writing Systems Technology (formerly known as NRSI)
Problems of diacritic design for Latin script text faces
Early in the development of the Latin script, special marks, separate in nature from the basic letters, began to be used. Since the innovation of movable type, these diacritics, or accents, have been a special challenge for the type designer. Their size, spacing and design can be critically important for the reader, but can also cause many problems—with letter fit and line spacing in particular. The design of these additional marks, and their harmony with the rest of the typeface, is important to success.
This essay focuses on these problems and the techniques designers have used to address them. After a review of the definition, origin and classification of diacritics, each major problem is identified and analysed, with an emphasis on how they have been, or could be, overcome. The analysis concludes with a review of remaining problems, some recommendations for the type design community, and comments on the future of diacritic design.
Please note that this paper was written in partial fulfilment of an MA in Typeface Design at the University of Reading, UK.