I'm designing a div container that will contain some rows of text. Every row can contain 0 to 35 chars.

I need to specify a fixed width for the div, but I cannot predict how "wide" the string can be.

An example of strings (all 35 chars):

  • aeR1riPhah9chaicaegae7oobaiz8eiquoL
  • iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii
  • da da da 35 chars text With CApital

As you can see, the glyph "i" is narrower than the glyph "L".

A possible solution could be to use a Monospaced font, but for some stylistic constraints I need to use Arial (or equivalent font).

The idea is to size the container considering a string that contains the largest glyphs, but I am not sure what is the largest glyph, especially if we consider all the UTF characters.

  • it's W. You could try this out yourself - but someone already did the work for you :-) See this - stackoverflow.com/questions/3949422/… but personally I wouldn't design around the widest character as it's almost certainly going to be generally too wide if you allow space for 35 W's Jul 21, 2011 at 10:43
  • Also related: graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/questions/860/…
    – e100
    Jul 21, 2011 at 12:26
  • 6
    Consider your target audience. Are they realistically going to be using Arabic characters or will 99.9% of the users be using latin characters 99.9% of the time? If you're planning on accommodating the widest character 35 times in a row, you're likely affecting the rest of your design for the sake of the unlikely edge case. You may be better served to run a regex in your rendering function to guesstimate width. If too many non-latin characters are detected, apply an extra CSS class to reduce the font-size on that particular row.
    – Farray
    Jul 21, 2011 at 15:01
  • 1
    Further to Farray's point, █ usually gives a typical wide character width. Or M widths are the classic unit of measurement (hence em). They're not strictly the widest, but something strange will be happening if the average character in a string is wider than this. overflow: auto should cover very strange cases like this. Jul 26, 2012 at 15:12
  • 2
    𒈙 and 𒐫 are also quite long glyphs
    – phuclv
    Mar 3, 2018 at 12:43

5 Answers 5


Just one thing to say:


[EDIT] Update - OK - I concede there are some much wider characters: ؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁؁

  • Very much appreciated! wWwwW
    – Rdpi
    Jul 21, 2011 at 11:03
  • -1. While this is true for basic Latin, the question specifically says "the largest glyph" and "especially if we consider all the UTF characters".
    – e100
    Jul 21, 2011 at 14:17
  • @e100. Yes - you are absolutely correct. I'm back ahead of you now though - can I have my vote back :-) Jul 21, 2011 at 14:47
  • 1
    I feel like I'm watching the "Wanda the Witch" skit from very early Sesame Street. :) Jul 21, 2011 at 18:47

﷽. Do I win a prize? (text to reach 30 characters)

  • 1
    That's a badass gliph :)
    – Rdpi
    Dec 13, 2015 at 5:52
  • 1
    I don't currently have access to a computer to check, but I would strongly suspect that glyph is not available in Arial. Are you sure it's not only available in Arial Unicode MS (which is a different font)? Dec 13, 2015 at 15:23

Still checking, but in the set of Latin glyphs,


is looking pretty wide.

Or there's


Or maybe &#xfdfa "ARABIC LIGATURE SALLALLAHOU ALAYHE WASALLAM" (doesn't seem to render in the Tahoma used here):


Obviously these are extreme examples and it's very unlikely anyone's going to type these, but it underlines Farray's point above: you need to find a compromise that will cover the vast majority of cases for your audience, but not necessarily anything that might conceiveably appear.


Easy ௵௵௵௵௵௵௵ i found this in a game called agar.io someone likes long names

  • That's the weirdest glyph ever :)
    – Rdpi
    Sep 8, 2015 at 14:43
  • many Tamil and Indic scripts have quite long characters ஹ ௸ ௵ ꧄ and a Burmess one ဪ
    – phuclv
    Mar 3, 2018 at 12:47

Usually, the em dash is the widest glyph in any typeface. The italic f is the rare glyph that extends into the ascender and the descender space making it one of the tallest in any typeface.

A handy practical measure is an "alphabet" composed of the lower case letters a through z. A normal typeface is roughly 13 ems long. If the typeface alphabet is less, it is a condensed typeface suitable for composing narrow-measure paragraphs. Easily readable line lengths range from 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 alphabets.

An em is a horizontal distance that is the equivalent to the vertical height of the typeface. An em space for 24 pt typeface is 24 pts long. It's proportional to the typeface and varies with each different size.

  • That's a naive view of typefaces and doesn't apply to modern fonts. In modern fonts it's almost universal for there to be capital letters with accents above them, which are taller than the ascender on the f, and it's commonplace for there to be characters wider than an em space, especially when including things like ligatures and, as pointed out elsewhere, characters like ‱ (per ten thousand sign, nicknamed "basis points" in economics). Aug 27, 2013 at 6:25
  • 1
    @ thomasrutter. Guilty. Meant to be used in context of all of the above. Also not meant to be exhaustive or complete. All was prefaced (framed) by "Usually." I can't see that I contradicted anything incorrectly. Also note the suggested alternative method I've used. Thanks for the slap.
    – Stan
    Aug 28, 2013 at 18:10
  • @ thomasrutter. The question was for the widest glyph in Arial. Thanx for all the stuff on the accent height that is irrelevant to the OP. I mentioned the rare quality for a glyph to extend into ascender, body, and descender zones as a bit of trivia. Do you know of many others? Do you know of any others? How many caps have a descender to qualify to dispute that bit of trivia?
    – Stan
    Aug 29, 2013 at 2:18
  • 3
    Ok, that's weird, I don't get what the point of your comments is. You were the one that brought up accent height, I pointed out you were wrong about it, and yet you criticize me for talking about accent height because it's irrelevant? Also, you were wrong about the widest character being the em dash in Arial, but you are still defending your answer because it may be correct for some other fonts (hint: it usually isn't, and at any rate this question was about Arial). I just don't see what you have to gain from those comments. Aug 29, 2013 at 3:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.