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Is there a set formula / ratio for creating a trademark symbol (TM) or adjusting numerals such as 2nd or 3rd to create the proper visual effect on the superscript? Currently I always just eyeball it to make it look right. Is there a set standard for this though?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted


It depends entirely on the font. Some fonts have the superscripting built in, others provide you with relatively full height glyphs. Among those that are predesigned, there are varying levels of optimization for varying point sizes. That last point is critical.

The principal considerations are:

  • Make sure the glyphs are legible (some go with the minimum here in all cases)
  • Align their optical top edge with the cap height or, with extreme cap to ascender differential, between the cap and ascender height.
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Figured I would've known this 'golden ratio' by now if one existed... also figured it would make a nice question for this little Q&A we've got. – Ryan May 16 '13 at 20:21
I wish there was a formula! You just have to find the right ratios for your most oft used typefaces and set up styles in your favorite app that can be imported. – plainclothes May 16 '13 at 20:22

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