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What should be used for leading?
January 30, 2013 12:41 PM   Subscribe

The standard Type 1 fonts from Adobe don't have a definition of Leading. What should I use?

The standard Type 1 fonts:
  • Times-Roman
  • Times-Bold
  • Times-Italic
  • Times-BoldItalic
  • Helvetica
  • Helvetica-Bold
  • Helvetica-Oblique
  • Helvetica-BoldOblique
  • Courier
  • Courier-Bold
  • Courier-Oblique
  • Courier-BoldOblique
  • Symbol
  • ZapfDingbats
don't have leading defined in them (it's neither in the font nor in the AFM file). I don't have access to OpenType equivalents - what should I use for Leading values for each of these?
posted by plinth to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
 
Maybe I don't understand the question, but leading depends on both the font size and how and where it's being used. There's no single right leading value. The default, at least in Adobe apps, is 120% of the font size (12pt leading on 10pt font), but there are situations where you'd use less or more.
posted by primethyme at 2:01 PM on January 30, 2013


In OpenType fonts there is an encoded Leading value in design units. This is not present in Type 1 fonts. In converting the legacy fonts to opentype, Adobe added that in. I don't have access to those OpenType fonts.
posted by plinth at 2:56 PM on January 30, 2013


The leading value chosen for a specific text would depend on the design of the font (x-height, ascenders and descenders, and other more-subtle factors) combined with the length of the lines of text (width of the text block). There’s no hard-and-fast rule for determining this. When designing the text block for books I put in a huge amount of time doing proofs trying to find the “ideal” proportions of margins, font size, and leading for the particular project in the font I’ve chosen. And that’s coming in with experience and starting out with very reasonable starting values.

So, unless there’s some more-technical question about font formats that I’m not understanding, there is no set answer for any font outside of the context of how it is being used (either in print or on screen).
posted by D.C. at 4:05 PM on January 30, 2013


I should clarify that in general, the shorter the line (proportional to font size), the tighter the leading can be. That’s the basic guideline but even then there are cases where you’d diverge from that.
posted by D.C. at 7:09 PM on January 30, 2013


This is strictly a file format issue not a discretionary typography choice. Leading is specified in the OpenType file format. I need this information to provide support for legacy fonts which aren't OpenType.
posted by plinth at 3:15 AM on January 31, 2013


Well, I don’t have modern font tools that can look at the internals of OpenType fonts and don’t have OpenType versions of all of those fonts either.

You might try asking on the Typophile forums, either in «General Discussions» or «Build».
posted by D.C. at 4:17 AM on January 31, 2013


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