Font height 1" actually equals 1" in design software

Hi, I’m creating fonts for the memorial industry for use in Adobe Illustrator and other standard design software like CorelDRAW, instead of specific monument design software which use their own proprietary fonts. Monument and sign-making software always have a 1" font height value actually equaling 1" tall. When you bring a font into Adobe Illustrator and set units to inches, I’ve never seen a case where 1" actually equals 1". The size is typically an obscure number that changes from font to font. For the memorial industry in North America, the height of the lettering has historically been very important, and I’d like to be able to give customers the ability to easily type in a font height without needing to any math on their own.

Right now my fonts are set to 1000 upm and when I bring them into Illustrator I need to give them a value of almost exactly 1.425" to achieve an actual 1" letter height. I’ve played around with it some, but have not figured out how to make this happen without doing something ‘hacky’ and screwing something else up in the process.

How might I go about correctly making the change to the values of my fonts in Glyphs in order to get my desired font height?

UPM = units per em
Em = font size

So you could draw your letters as tall as the UPM, but that can lead to other problems. Most of those problems stem from the fact that the relative height is stored three times in the font. There is a tutorial about Vertical Metrics, look for it in the tutorial section if you want to know more about this.

Usually the caps are capped at the height of approximately 70% of the UPM, in order to allow room for accents, and avoid problems of line positioning, clipping, or the like.

However, if you know exactly which software the font is going to be used, you have to test it only in that environment. So if it proves to work there, then there’s no problem. But chances are, there is some other software (or even a different version of the same program) that will be incompatible with it. So, do this only if you really know that the environment is limited in terms of software, e.g., Illustrator on the Mac.

Or, make your Cap Height 50% of the UPM. That way, you can tell your clients to enter 2 inches, and your caps will be 1 inch. Your type design will appear relatively small compared to other fonts, but your font will be more compatible, and have extra space for accents and flourishes and long Q tails.

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Thanks mekkablue, that’s about the answer I thought I would get - but was hoping for a simple solution that I just wasn’t seeing! Unfortunately I’m trying to create the fonts to be usable in any software, so the the environment is not fixed.

So I suggest the second approach, making the cap height half the UPM (i.e., 500 unless you changed the UPM).