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In normal outline fonts, as the font is scaled down, the stroke weight also gets smaller, until at some point the characters look almost invisible. Is there a kind of font with fixed stroke width across all sizes, just like when written with a pen, so that the characters are always visible?

To clarify, I have this simple illustration:

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    I don't understand this. You want type to scale down but its strokes to not scale? – Scott Jan 20 at 8:50
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    Yes, there used to be stroked fonts that could do this. They have been removed form the arsenal of desktop publishing. But these are only supported in CAD applications geared for manufacturing. – joojaa Jan 20 at 11:51
  • @Scott I have edited my question description to show an illustration. Hope this clarifies. – Lê Duy Quang Jan 20 at 12:21
  • Yes, this is a 100% reasonable thing to want. Indeed, it used to be completely normal in metal type, especially with fonts that need to look delicate. At every size the hairlines would be made thin, but not so thin that they would be invisible. Unfortunately it's been very hard to make this work in digital type–really less for tech reasons than because app vendors (Microsoft Office in particular, although Adobe can also take some blame here) haven't been interested in enabling new font formats. – Copilot Jan 20 at 22:34
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What you want is a variable font, that lets you adjust stroke width smoothly to your font size. Unfortunately, very few are available at the moment. Nick Sherman's v-fonts website has obtained rights to show many of the ones available at the moment. Work Sans, which is fairly monoline and open-source, is likely the closest you can get to what you want. You'd probably need custom code to increase tracking (spacing between glyphs) as text size decreases as well.

  • Yeah, however font being variable does not guarantee that it can do this (unlike single stroke fonts that guarantee this property). So only some variable fonts have this capability. Also the glyph can also handle the tracking, depends a bit how it was done. Biggest problem is that the unit the dev has chosen for the variable is not allways easy to cipher – joojaa Jan 21 at 6:23
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These are called one stroke, or monoline, fonts. Back in the day these existed, even in corel draw and illustrator*. But they have been since then deprecated because nobody used them. Well not quite nobody, engineers have found some quite good use for them. They shine if you need to laser cut or engrave with a mill. So you can find these in autocad, and other engineering applications by default.

Now technically, there are true type fonts that can do this by cheating. It is just that nearly every engine out there reject them or exposes the cheat, because they violate the now imposed outline rule. So they fail suddenly and spectacularly at times, or just dont fulfill their promise. You can find a set of such fonts here

Which is why a set of tricks exist like the Hershey text plugin for Inkscape, and monolinetext for illustrator.

Personally though i roll my own monoline fonts because then i get what i want that way. Here is the latest one i made about a month ago (it took me about 4 days to do these in a text editor, this one is based one the ASME drafting font spec. I added western european support while i was at it). I still need to implement tracking.

enter image description here

* Yes the font engine of 1980's and 1990's was more versatile.

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