Small Caps

st.patrik's picture

Hi All - I found this community this morning and registered so I could ask a question. I searched before posting but couldn't find an answer (at least that I could understand).

I should preface my question by saying that I am a newbie when it comes to understanding the intricacies of type, even though I am fascinated by it.

So here is the question/problem:
I recently purchased a couple of fonts which have true small caps in the glyph set. In the past I had always just used the computer-generated version of small caps most programs include, but after reading a few things and trying it out I realized that they look horrible compared to the real thing. I mean, there is no comparison. So am I trying to find a way to use the true small caps in a way that avoids having to manually choose each glyph one click at a time rather than by key-presses.

That is my question: is there a way to use true small caps more easily than choosing the glyphs and then manually inserting them one at a time?

I am using a Mac (hopefully that doesn't offend anyone), and am working in Pages and Nisus Writer Express. I recognize neither of these software packages are the ideal for this kind of thing, but since I am merely an enthusiast I can't see myself shelling out a bunch of cash to get a new app, just so I can use true small caps more easily.

I've wondered about several options, but have no idea how to pursue any of them, such as changing the key-bindings (e.g. press alt-g to get small cap "g") or hacking the font to create a duplicate 'small cap' version (but this may well violate some copyright agreements and I don't want to do anything illegal).

In short, I am at a loss. What I want is to be able to press a key or combination of keys and get a true small cap, or switch some option somewhere to get them when I type the regular letters. Having the letters recognize as the letters (e.g. a "g" as a "g") so that spell checking doesn't choke on the words would be a bonus.

Can anyone help me?

oldnick's picture

Generally, if the fonts in question have the smcp feature and the applications in question are OpenType-aware, you can get true small caps by highlighting your selected text and activating the smcp feature (usually with a checkbox on the character/font palette). However, I'm not familiar with either of the applications, so...

Frode Bo Helland's picture

You can contact the type designer and/or foundry and ask for small caps in a separate font.

DTY's picture

In Pages, what you want is the Typography palette. Go to the Fonts palette, click on the cogwheel thing toward the bottom, and select "Typography..." from the menu. This gives you access to the OpenType features, including small caps, that you can apply to the selected text. Since it's a pain to get to, you'll want to define a character style for small caps.

I have no idea about NWE. When I last used it, maybe five or six years ago, it didn't support OpenType features, but maybe it has been improved since then.

riccard0's picture

There was a thread with screenshots on how to access OpenType features in Apple’s apps, but at the moment I’m unable to find it again.

Theunis de Jong's picture

There was a thread with screenshots on how to access OpenType features in Apple’s apps, but at the moment I’m unable to find it again.

Just created this snapshot with TextEdit. The font is Minion Pro, of which I knew in advance that it has real small caps.

st.patrik's picture

Ah - perfect!

Thank you all so much for directing me to where I needed to go. Big help!

k.l.'s picture

In Nisus Writer you can access the Typography panel too (Nisus forum).

twardoch's picture

Yes, the Typography palette is "well hidden", but once you have found it, it opens a wholly new set of typographic possibilities. Good news is also that in Mac OS X 10.6, most of the problems associated with the palette has been fixed.

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