Alternate Glyphs in variable font

What is the smartest way to make glyph detail exceptions in a variable font setup, for example a variation of the dollar glyph, with the vertical line going all the way through to being cut off in heavier weights. Or with the angled tail in Q, all the way through to only outside the basic shape.

You either use Alternate (or bracket) layers (Alternating glyph shapes: the bracket trick | Glyphs (the tutorial is not updated for Glyphs 3 but the basic idea is the same)) or use two glyphs and manually write the feature variations code (Glyphs 3: Make Things You Love | Glyphs search for “OTVar feature variations directly in your feature code”)

Thank you. Do I still have to make the “wrong” glyph, to make the export go through?

There is actually a new tutorial: Switching Shapes | Glyphs

For variable fonts, you always need both glyphs. Otherwise it can’t switch between the two.

Thank you!

Hi Georg,

I can’t make it work :-/ In show all instances it looks right, but the export of the variable font doesn’t work, the alternate layer does not kick in, do you know why? Do I need to write code?


The visible part of the layer panel looks good.

How/where do you test?


Use FontGoogles.

And what version of Glyphs do you have?

3.0.4 (3098)

It works in FontGoogles! :slight_smile: What’s with Illustrator then?

Ask Adobe.

I added highlighted line in custom parameters at font info and work fine in Illustrator too.


The problem is that the rvrn feature is applied at the beginning of the GPOS processing so it doesn’t work to have variation of alternate glyphs, like small caps or ligatures. Please try rlig, that should work in Illustrator and supports all glyphs.

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Like this:

condition 31 < wght;
sub dollar by dollar.bold;


Does that work, when the alternate dollar is just an alternate layer and not a separate glyph?

No, it needs to be a separate glyph.

Thanks Georg, I changed to rlig and works right.