Sometimes I make my own typefaces. Most of the fonts are very incomplete. I concentrate a-z, A-Z, 0-9 and some punctuation marks. I want to make a more complete font. But find it hard to decide which glyphs to design.

It seems logical to design Latin and Latin Extended A first. But just going for a complete unicode plane seems a bit rough. General punctuation has some very common glyphs, but also some obscure ones that are often omitted.

Are there guides on which glyphs to design? Are there methods to decide which ones? Are there language sets? How do you decide which glyphs to design?

I'm looking for a classification system for glyphs or methods that type designers use to decide what glyphs to design. A graphic designer in Germany will only buy a font if it contains a ß glyph. I'm at the other side of the counter. I design a font for a market. How to know the needs of a market?

  • Have you looked at other fonts in the market? The most popular fonts on Adobe? Feb 21, 2014 at 10:54
  • 4
    Woh! Tricky! All I can really say is that I find it extremely annoying when a font lacks "my" extra letters; æ, ø, å (and sometimes ß). And of course accent aigu, accent grave.
    – benteh
    Feb 21, 2014 at 11:51
  • 1
    Do the ones that you use. Its annoying as a non English speaker but you should not worry about what might be. In any case you will be missing many language groups (to put it plainly about 2 billion people are definitely way out of your league). Taking the European fonts about doubles/tripples your audience, but not the paying audience. Threat this like cashing out investments do it if you really need the money or in this case somebody asks you.
    – joojaa
    Feb 21, 2014 at 12:02
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    I don't know of any standard but the difference between "standard" and "pro" fonts might be a good place to begin research - it's an existing rough convention for glyph support adopted by a lot of foundaries. Feb 21, 2014 at 12:06
  • Thanks for the comments and suggestions. Yes I've looked at other fonts. Not all of them ;). I was thinking about EU and doing a different font per country. EU has many countries, languages, scripts and requirements. I want to do the minimal required glyphs per country. Unicode Standardized subsets comes close. But I'm looking for more fine grained methods. I'm starting to think about ebooks and counting glyphs. Knowing regular char combinations might be handy too. But something of the shelf is better!
    – allcaps
    Feb 21, 2014 at 12:26

3 Answers 3


Short answer:

It's specific to the implementation.

Long answer:

Research the market for your typeface. Look through how Google Webfonts does charsets and the Mac keyboard implementation of accented characters.

Google provides some clarification on making charset calls, which is what occurs with websites and webapps.

If your target market is something formal (eg. financial services), the European Payments Council has some dry but informative reading on requirements for language-specific glyphs.

You may want to ask this on the Linguistics, Webmasters, or Stack Overflow forums. You'll probably get an answer more specific to your application.

  • 1
    The Google Webfonts use Unicode planes and are to broad for my needs. But the SEPA conversion table xls is spot on! Glyphs per country. Great!
    – allcaps
    Mar 1, 2014 at 21:49
  • Great! Glad I could help. Good luck.
    – SwankyLegg
    Mar 1, 2014 at 22:56
  • LS, This answer is about SEPA countries (EU). Although I accepted this answer (because it's very useful to me), I'm still interested in other glyph classification systems/methods. I'll upvote! ;)
    – allcaps
    Mar 2, 2014 at 9:25

The Unicode Common Locale Data Repository and more precise the Unicode Locale Data Summary provides a summary view of the main locale data.


For my fonts I have created Unicode subsets to cover the best characters.


Subset1 — 678 characters Subset2 — 1193 characters Subset3 — 2823 characters Subset3+ — 3309 characters

Following those subsets gives better results than arbitrarily including Unicode blocks. Including Subset1 ensures WGL4 compatibility.

Also, I do not ever release a font with an arbitrarily incomplete character set. I am currently making a font of at least 10445 characters to then later make another Unicode subset available.

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