Default font tracking

I’m not a typographical expert by any means, but I find it fascinating. And it’s more than a mere curiosity for me—I often need to match existing styles from other typesetting programs (Finale, specifically).

The following mash-up is 33-point Minion Pro, screenshots taken from Dorico default, Finale, Adobe Acrobat, and then Dorico with 0.5 tracking.

I noticed right away that the Dorico default created a ligature between the T and the h. Then I noticed that every sample was a different length.

(I didn’t include it in the graphic, but MS Word produced a result almost identical to Dorico at 0.5.)

I don’t have a problem with the Dorico default. It’s quite nice. Except that I’m curious about the behavior of the ligature, and I want to be able to match font behavior. This example is negligible, but when it comes to hymnal lyric spacing (which can be quite tight), this margin of difference could be significant.

And I’m guessing from this little experiment that tracking is not a standard thing? That is, every software interprets font spacing differently? That seems like a strange practice to me.


Edit: I had referred to it as kerning, but I guess tracking is a more accurate term.

Yes, Kerning is the adjustment made in the font between specific pairs of letters, such as Av, and tracking (or Letter Spacing as Dorico calls it) is the general distance between letters.

Different apps will use different type engines to render the type. MacOS and Windows each have routines that apps can call, and the output in each should be the same for apps that use them. (But not necessarily the same across the two platforms.)

Adobe have their own type engine, which may produce different results from the OS APIs. Dorico’s cross-platform Qt framework may do its own thing.

Finale’s typesetting is not one of its strong suits, and no real benchmark of anything.

Interesting found, I can reproduce this also on my system.
I am also curious to know what is happening here.

I’ve also been using Minion Pro for some time (having used it to replace Stempel Garamond). I was a little surprised by your Finale behaviour: I always get ligatures, and in your text example, my version of Finale uses the Th ligature (as well as all the other common ones).

That is strange. I’ve used Minion Pro in Finale for maybe three years now, and I don’t recall ever getting a ligature!

Mac OS maybe?