Hinting across a family

Hello - forgive me if I’ve misunderstood, but my reading of the manual is that the positions of hints on just one weight of a family will be used across all weights when exporting with the “auto hint” checked. This does not seem to be the case. First shot - hints as applied to Medium. Second shot - hints as generated in Heavy (exported, then opened). Second question - is there a way to check this without exporting and opening? Not easy on a large family. Thanks.

I noticed that the point positions were not compatible, but on the master file they are – Path 2 has changed on export. Here is the A in the master Glyphs file:

Could the removal of the overlap during export throw off the positioning of the hints as they are tagged to specific points, and these then change? Would changing the order of hinting and overlap removal during export cure this?

With compatible masters, the hints should be used for all instances. Remove overlap doesn’t bother the hints.

If you added the hints to another than the first master, you might need a ‘take hints from master’ custom parameter (something like this, not on the Mac right now).

Try first to do without manually placed hints altogether if you use autohinting at export. Make sure zones and stems are set properly and export. Then check the rendering in Adobe apps.

Thanks for getting back to me, Georg. When you say “first master”, which does that refer to? I have three masters - a light, medium and heavy, and the hints are on the medium.

Hi Rainer - that gives the wonky results seen in the second ‘A’ I posted (ie big overlapping hints, a hint that goes the full width of the A), hence manually adjusted them on the medium hoping they would apply to all weights.

Add the Get Hints from Master parameter and choose ‘Medium’ from the popup:


Make sure the hints connect to the nodes.

Those may not matter at all. Such hints are usually ignored by the renderer. Make sure the stems are defined properly and test the pixel rendering in InDesign.

That works! Thanks, and Happy New Year!

Bit of background: I was under the impression that hints were solely related to on-screen rendering, not print, but had a recent job that was digitally printed (at high, professional resolution) in which characters shifted horizontally, giving the impression of bad spacing. The effect could be reproduced by zooming out in Indesign to a certain point at which the characters moved back and forth horizontally, but not at other magnifications. A non-hinted version did not show this effect. After a bit of googling I find that hints DO also apply to print too (sometimes) – but (in this case at least) seem to be a liability rather than a help. So, given that even a correctly and carefully hinted font has the potential to look shonky in print, am I better off removing all hints and shipping fonts without? I have to say that I find the appearance on-screen between a font with hints and one without is nowadays so minimal, and any differences (other than a slight apparent weight difference) seem to often be detrimental rather than beneficial.
TL:DR: Hints — best avoided altogether? Thoughts?

Note the way the “i” (eg) shifts about in this scan:

Shot from Indesign - compare for example, the i in “Mike Carlin”

The two images above are of the same hinted font.

Further comparison on another font - note horizontal shift of “j”:

The hints and spacing in Glyphs look fine:

Also note the uneven treatment of the top of the “a” in the hinted version that is better in the unhinted version:

…though I notice that here the autohint has added additional small horizontal hints at the top and bottom – should these be removed?

The hints at the ‘a’ look strange. Is that an imported .otf? Could you send that file to me?

For clarity, those small extra hints are not on the medium “a”, from which the hints on the other weights are taken (see below). I’d like to avoid a) hinting every weight b) opening and removing extra unwanted hints from exported fonts.

Sure, thanks Georg.