We are currently developing a website which uses the Māori language (from New Zealand): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%81ori_language

For correct pronunciation the written form of Māori uses macrons - horizontal lines over vowels to signify a long vowel.

Our issue is that most web fonts seem to revert macron characters to some sort of default, which looks terrible. Here's how the (assumed) defaulting behaviour appears in a Māori saying:

enter image description here

I'm hoping there's a list somewhere of web fonts that correctly support Māori macrons, but I have been unable to find it via Google.

Does a list exist, or is there an easy way of working out what web fonts will work with Māori macrons?

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    Are you specifically talking about free web fonts? I'm fairly confident the web fonts offered by Typekit and Myfonts are quite likely to include macronated vowels. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 11 '15 at 23:30
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    Ironically, not the one we use for titles on this site - that ā in Māori in the title is clearly substituted from a jarringly heavier font... p.s. this related question might help you find fonts that support your character How to find/browse fonts that include certain rare characters? (unicode) – user56reinstatemonica8 Nov 18 '15 at 13:59
  • @user568458 It's long been a pet peeve of mine that the SE site that is home to most typography-related things uses a font that does so poorly with non-ASCII characters. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Nov 19 '15 at 0:51

I think the best approach is to use the advanced search tool on your web font service. For example, if you're using Google Fonts, you'd search for "Latin Extended" fonts, and use "ā a" as the test text, to confirm that it contains the macron'd a in the font.

enter image description here

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    Note that it's also important to make sure that when you embed the font, that you include the extended character set. For example, in Google fonts (by default) non-latin characters are excluded, so you have to select the "latin extended" to embed. – aaaidan Nov 12 '15 at 4:45

We got there in the end and I thought it was worth adding our experiences for anyone who stumbles across this post.

The site we were working on was on Squarespace, using Typekit font packages.

It turns out the default delivery for Typekit doesn't include the macron characters. By setting up our own Typekit and selecting "All Characters" we could get a (much larger) Typekit that supported macrons. enter image description here

So the issue wasn't so much with the font sets not supporting macrons but more with the default font delivery not supporting macrons.

  • Thank you for your research. I have had difficulty with the same issue with trying to use Māori language macrons on Squarespace and also in finding suitable fonts for publishing scientific illustrations. I now know how to search fonts and to install. Great work :) – Erin Forsyth May 17 '18 at 6:59

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