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There might be no clear answer, but why the glyph set of some fonts is so incomplete or inconsistent?

For example, Minion Pro, which is the default font for InDesign, so it seems to pretend to be a really good font for most of us.

It doesn't have the manicule character (U+261B or U+261E). The manicule is not something really rare, exotic. It is a well known and even famous character that was used in many old books.

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Another example is Liberation super family by Steve Matteson (serif, sans, sans narrow, and monospaced), which I use for many of my documents. The fonts are free and they are really great, but look at the following table:

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Why 0 and 9 are mostly missing? Very inconsistent and very strange.

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2 Answers 2

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Most fonts have a rather limited glyph set. Realistically making a font that is complete is a herculean feat. Supporting all possible font features is not possible.

The manicule character hardly makes much difference. Most fonts dont have it, but even if they do borrowing one from another font is probably not a big issue. But quite many fonts out there are missing features that are required to several language groups.

Anyway its a question of time and effort if I implement a complete font and release it only untill i have all features then for sure i would never end releasing it. So you release a font that has most features, so you include a-z and a small set of common pinctuation, then add some of the european features and you suddenly have about a billion potential clients. Or you release a font that fullfils the needs of one region.

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  • Well, I agree, but missing 0 and 9 in Liberation fonts are still a big question.
    – user90726
    Jan 7 at 20:30
  • @jsv its not neccesery for a font to have a separate glyph for superscript it can still have instructions for how to do the superscript substitution. But yeah seems weird.
    – joojaa
    Jan 7 at 20:34
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    The missing superscript numbers in Liberation (why no 0 and 9, and why even fewer in Narrow?) is similar to one that I’m forever annoyed by: the number of otherwise very good and professional fonts that include Greek, but not Polytonic Greek (needed to write Classical/Biblical Greek), even though adding polytonic support is quite easily done, with font design programs able to generate most of the necessary glyphs automatically. Jan 8 at 0:56
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    @JanusBahsJacquet well i personally feel like i can only design glyphs i know usage of. So i can design fonts for nordics, maybe german, spanish. Im not entirely sure about french. Only the subset of greek that i have learned to use in science classes... So its more a question of what one uses. I can generate stuff no problem but i am in essence designing blind, more copying than bringing in value as a font designer.
    – joojaa
    Jan 8 at 6:53
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I suspect that the missing ⁹ and ⁰ are related to the need to design small numerals for pre-composed fractions.

Unicode 1.0 in 1991 had the pre-composed fractions ¼, ½, ¾, ⅓, ⅔, ⅕, ⅖, ⅗, ⅘, ⅙, ⅚, ⅛, ⅜, ⅝, and ⅞. If someone designs all of those, they then have small-size ¹ through ₈, which can then be easily reused in super- and subscript glyphs.

The fractions ⅐, ⅑, ⅒, and ↉ [used in Japanese baseball box scores] were not added until Unicode 5.2 in 2009. By then, the designer might have lost interest in finishing the superscripts.

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    Interesting, thanks.
    – user90726
    Jan 10 at 4:34

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