A good ordinary book or body-text font should come with smallcaps. How high should the smallcaps be? I suppose this would be expressed as either relative to the x-height (i don't think all smallcap designs make them exactly the x-height), or relative to the cap-height.

  • Low enough so that they're distinguishable from regular caps.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Feb 15, 2022 at 19:01

2 Answers 2


Not sure if all, but most small caps fonts I've seen are slightly taller than the X height, although the amount varies. I don't think there is anything set in stone. It's ultimately up to the designer.

Some examples pulled from Adobe Fonts.

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And of course the ubiquitous Copperplate Medium, which only comes in small caps anyway, has small caps slightly smaller than the large caps height.

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I am taking it that you are asking this question in order to synthesize a set of small caps by scaling the caps in a typeface, rather than designing a set of small caps.

This is a bit of a “How long is a piece of string?” question. The problem being that there are a lot of variables:

  • Style of typeface
  • Weight of typeface
  • Size of text
  • Relative size of caps to x-height
  • The exact problem you are trying to solve in using small caps…

As a generalisation, I would expect small caps to be around 10-20% taller than the x-height. If you size the small caps at the x-height it will tend to look “old fashioned”, and you will almost certainly have an issue with the relative weight of the small caps/lowercase/caps.

You might run into problems with some typefaces where the normal cap height is not much higher than the x-height, or, at least, is significantly below the lowercase ascender height (which is typical of modern text faces). In these cases you should probably try to align the small cap height somewhere between the x-height and cap height – about halfway should do it.

The overall problem is to distinguish the small caps from the lowercase, and from the caps, which is a fairly subtle problem.

  • 3
    i'm asking from a design perspective. I'm not a monster, i would never scale my caps to make smallcaps. Feb 16, 2022 at 13:02

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