Use Typo Metrics for Line Spacing
To overcome these compatibility issues, a new flag was introduced in the OpenType specification. If the font has set this flag “Use typo metrics for line spacing”, which we highly recommend, all applications should use these cross-platform values to determine default line spacing. To enable the corresponding checkbox in FontCreator, the Contents and Layout version must be set to four or five on the General tab of the Font Properties dialogue.
If the font has set this flag “Use typo metrics for line spacing”, then Microsoft Word uses the Typographic values. Otherwise it uses WinAscent and WinDescent along with LineGap as default line spacing.
On Windows, text will be clipped above these used ascender and descender values, so ensure that all your glyph outlines are within the visual (non-clipping) zone.
More and more applications use the Typographic Spacing Metrics values, but mainly legacy software still uses either Windows or Macintosh specific metrics. For consistent line spacing without clipping, we recommend the following approach.
Typographic (OS/2 -> TypoAscender, TypoDescender, and TypoLineGap)
TypoAscender and TypoDescender should at least sum to “units per em” (upem). Take the maximum and minimum vertical outline positions from all glyphs that cover the primary languages your font supports. Usually an extended Latin character set, for example Unicode blocks Basic Latin along with Latin-1 Supplement, will do. Then proportionally increase the values so that they total upem.
Set the TypoLineGap value between 7% and 25% of upem, so that the total of all three Typographic values makes a good default line spacing.
Windows (OS/2 -> WinAscent and WinDescent)
WinAscent and WinDescent should accommodate the maximum and minimum vertical outline positions from all glyphs. Proportionally increase the values so that WinAscent - WinDecent is at least equal to TypoAscender - TypoDescender + TypoLineGap.
Macintosh (hhea -> Ascender, Descender, and LineGap)
These values represent the design intentions of the font's creator rather than any computed value, and individual glyphs may well exceed the limits they represent. Some applications (mainly Mac based) use or used these metrics.
Simply set these to match the corresponding Typographic Spacing Metrics values.
How to Calculate the Values?
Now that you better understand how to set vertical spacing values, it is still not easy to manually calculate all these values. Fortunately, FontCreator has a button that does all the magic for you:
The Maximum option synchronizes all vertical spacing metrics, and is the recommended strategy. You can also choose to use the minimum option, which is more compatible with older software. Either way adjust the line gap values to your liking and ensure you agree with the calculated values. Test the font on Windows, Macintosh, Web browsers, and applications like Microsoft Word, and Adobe InDesign.
Use the same values for style linked typefaces (e.g. regular, italic, bold, and bold italic fonts), so that the document layout won’t reflow when changing the font style.
Remaining Issues and Thoughts
Some fonts (for complex scripts) might contain base characters and combining marks that when used together can exceed the calculated limits. In such cases you should consider increasing the spacing metrics.
Other requirements apply for CJK (Chinese, Japanese, and Korean) fonts that are intended to be used for vertical layout.
You may find it impossible to get a good balance between consistent layout across different applications and aesthetic spacing. If the outlines are too small or too large, you should consider increasing or reducing the size of your glyph outlines. We consider outlines too small if the CapHeight is less than ½ upem, and it is too large if is exceeds ¾ upem.