Ascender Height Relative To Cap Height

Chris Hunt's picture

why's the "h" ascender above the capital "T" in some instances, but not in others?

are there certain categories of typeface where this tends to be the norm?

for example, looking at slab, they are more uniform in height -- at least from what i can see. But, then there's the occasional slab face that bucks the trend, and has ascenders taller than caps.

gargoyle's picture

Duplicate of above

gargoyle's picture

Duplicate post

George Thomas's picture

It all depends upon the original designer; there is no rule that dictates one way or the other.

William Berkson's picture

IIRC making the cap height lower than the ascender was an innovation of Griffo, in the Bembo type. This helps to make the 'color' (grey) of the caps more similar to the lower case. There are other ways to do this, and also it's a choice how much the designer wants to make the caps and lower case similar in color or different.

hrant's picture

What George said, plus:
- The smaller the x-height the more sense it makes to have shorter caps.
- If you want the text to be more "scannable" (which usually involves capitalized proper names) you should make the caps stand out; otherwise make them blend in.
- In onscreen rendering small differences between cap height and ascender height are made to disappear.

hhp

Chris Hunt's picture

so looking at this, it seems there's no rule per se. but it does have an effect on color and scannability.

"In onscreen rendering small differences between cap height and ascender height are made to disappear."

by choice, convention, or due to limitations of the screen?

hrant's picture

Basically avoiding gray blur on a coarse grid.

hhp

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Also, since uppercase letters are generally wider (and contain more white) than ascenders, they tend to appear “bigger”. Reducing the size of the uppercase can help balance a word better. This gets less pronounced in large sizes. I suspect that has something to do with the trends you observe: e.g. intended for display vs. intended for text.

Keep in mind not all type designers make concious decisions. Many just do whatever the others did.

Chris Hunt's picture

gargoyle linked to a thread in which nick shinn makes a good post.

Note that Jenson's face had massive ascender-height capitals, but Griffo made the improvement soon after ("Bembo" the typeface).
550 years ago.

However, the modern style put caps at ascender height, 200 years ago.

So, a different strategy for oldstyle and modern.

Carter's Olympian was the first 20th century news font to have ascenders taller than caps.
This trend has continued, and now faces like H&FJ's Chronicle leverage this effect mightily.

"Reducing the size of the uppercase can help balance a word better. This gets less pronounced in large sizes. I suspect that has something to do with the trends you observe: e.g. intended for display vs. intended for text."

i went through all the ads in a copy of esquire, which was laying around. in only one instance, ascenders were taller than caps for display faces -- and it was marginal.

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