Wondering what the proportions are generally (just some rough proportions that span the spectrum) of glyphs in different non-Latin fonts. For example, I noticed that some Chinese characters are not twice the width of a monospaced Latin font's single character. It is some fraction larger than 1 but less than two of the width.

So wanted to get an idea of the range of sizes you'll find other glyphs in other languages (Devangari script, Chinese / Japanese script, Arabic, Hebrew, others). Wondering if it all falls within a certain size. Wondering if any characters in other languages are larger than 2x the size of 1 latin character, etc.


2 Answers 2


This is very wide question and I can only answer the scripts I know about. Also i would posit that Latin is the one that is out of norm not the other ones. So square is norm, nonfixed width scripts are not.

Scripts with varying aspect ratio

  1. Latin characters do not have a fixed size. That is the nature of the script some characters are thinner some wider. So there is no form factor. Roughly speaking the aspect of the thinnest character is nearly 1:4 while the widest character is slightly wider than a square or 1.1:1. Considerable amount of variation.

    Reading order left to right

  2. Arabic also do not have a fixed aspect ratio for characters, the ratio is much more extreme than for Latin chars. In fact the script does not really fit into fixed width thinking. Monospaced Arabic scripts are rare, and usually work out badly because of the variation in aspect ratio.

    Many Arabic characters come in different widths for different purposes. Also all Arabic is cursive! Reading order is right to left

Scripts with Square aspect ratios

  1. Kanji in both Chinese and Japanese script (is roughly the same system), and has a very square aspect ratio on characters. Japanese use older Kanji characters than Chinese but the design principles are mostly same. Also the katakana and hiragana systems align with same square aspect ratio.

    Also worth noting that Japanese and Chinese is often written up down right to left. Although the direction is more free than that.

  2. Hangul (Korean) has also the square form factor although, each square is sort of several characters bundled into one. The reading order is quite free. To my understanding Hangul can be written in any direction and the characters will respect that.

  3. Hebrew is also mostly oriented in square blocks. Although its not as much of a problem to be non square as for the east Asian languages as the characters are less busy. So other than square ratios exist.

    Reading order is form right to left.

  4. Devangari is also mostly square, but as with Hebrew it has some possible leeway in aspect ratio.

    Reading order is left to right.


For Hebrew, note that in standard fonts most glyphs are no more than the x-height of Latin glyphs. Although 5 glyphs have descenders, there is only one glyph ("lamed") that has an ascender, and all the other glyphs are sized to allow for the lamed to be taller. As a result, in fonts that have both Latin and Hebrew, in any given font size the Hebrew is generally only as tall as Latin lower case, and it doesn't look proportional.

In terms of width, 11 glyphs are wide (also called "closed" letterforms), 10 that are not quite as wide ("open" letterforms), and 6 that are narrow. Since Hebrew makes extensive use of "marks" placed in relationship to the base glyph, the left and right bearings often need to be adjusted to fit in the marks.

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