Font Size precision

I’m working on a project were I want to replicate a score made with a different programme as closely as possible with Dorico.

I’ve come to a hiccup: the font size precision.
The sample document has font sizes with (absurd?) decimal precision (e.g. 7.52 pt, 6.38 pt,…) and I’ve noticed that Dorico’s precision is (limited to) 0.5 pt (7.52 pt becomes 7.5 pt, 6.38 pt becomes 6.5 pt,…) in the outputted document.

If you edit in Engrave mode, you cannot even enter such values, but editing in Paragraph Styles, you can.

I guess I want to say that the font size in the Paragraph Style editing window should also limit input to 0.5 pt precision.
If anyone can enlighten me on font sizes and precision, go ahead (always here to learn)!

Because 1pt = 1/72nd of an inch, which is just over a third of a millimetre, even a half point increment (1/144th of an inch, 0.17mm) is pretty jolly small. I suspect that there’s not really any actual requirement for point sizes to be specified beyond a half-point increment, and you may well encounter some variation in letter spacing and other artifacts when you make minute adjustments of this kind. Anyway, I agree that we should limit the editing of point sizes to a single decimal point in the Paragraph Styles dialog.

Thanks for the explanation, Daniel!
The size difference will not be noticeable anyway.

One more quick question, if I may (little bit off-topic)
I understand the principle of staff-relative font size, but how does the calculation/conversion work? If I enter like 15 pt staff-relative, and the staff size is 3.2 mm (9.08 pt; 0.8 mm space size) in the score, what size will I actually have?
I searched the forum and manual, but didn’t find anything. Maybe I missed it.

With a 20pt staff size (5pt space size), you’ll get the exact text size you’ve specified. Does that help?

Definitely, thanks!

Related to this: can anyone explain why Dorico slightly alters font sizes? I’ve noticed umpteen times that I entered in text as Shift-X at, say, 11 font. I click to edit it later and it shows up as 10.9 or 11.2 or something similar. I’ve always been confused by this. Is it trying to scale with the score?

The ‘Default text’ font is defined as being 12pt relative to a 20pt staff, or 5pt space size. However, the default 7mm staff size actually uses a staff size of 19.84pt, or 4.96pt space size, so a font size that is 12pt relative to a 20pt staff will indeed be 11.9pt relative to a 19.84pt staff.

Daniel, while 1pt is indeed tiny, if you reduce a font size from 12pt to 11pt, you will on average see a width reduction of 1 character for every 10.
Checking some sample music pages to hand, I’m typically getting 35-45 chars of lyric syllables across a page. Even a 0.25pt change could have a significant effect on the casting off. Though I’m confused by the comments here about whether Dorico rounds the font sizes to 0.5pt or not.

Fractional point sizes has been one of the regular user demands on Finale forums for nearly 10 years. Some publishers (apparently) do specify fractional point sizes.
Creating an arbitrary limit will invariably frustrate some users. (Someone might want to create text that scales to exactly 12pt for a given Rastral size in one Layout, but not use an absolute size in order to scale up in another layout.)

Apropos of font sizes: I note that when I ‘step up’ from 11.5pt in the Font Styles dialog, it goes up to 13pt. (ie. always skipping the next integer.)

The amount of leading also needs to be considered. Setting a block of text in 10/11.5, 10/12, or 10/12.5 look very different.

A rule of thumb for designing text documents with different font sizes for headers, footnotes, etc is to divide a size factor of two into 4 increments with equal size ratios. Based on 10 or 12 pt, that gives sizes of 5, 6, 7, 8.5, 10, 12, 14, 17, 20, 24, 28, 34, etc rounded to the nearest 0.5pt. If you try tweak the 8.5pt size to either 8 or 9 the difference is quite noticeable, and if you introduce both into the series (i.e. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 12) the size differences in the small fonts are not so clear. If you are using the size to distinguish different semantic items, it’s harder for the reader to see at a glance if two items are the same size or not.

Honestly, what is currently causing me more headaches than the small rastral adjustments by Dorico is the fact that there is not yet control over line spacing in text boxes and shiftX text. (IE- I can’t adjust how closely the lines of text are to each other. This isn’t even accessible in paragraph styles.). The problem comes when certain fonts have over-generous spacing for ligatures that aren’t being used and the lines are much farther apart than I’d prefer. True, there’s the baseline shift, however that only works for two lines max, not a paragraph for example.

Dear Romanos, isn’t that what “leading” does, in paragraph styles?

Yes, that is precisely what the ‘Leading’ setting in the paragraph style is for.

I’ve opined a bit about this here, and included information about other programs in case anyone needs to create consistent styles from one program to the next:

https://www.scoringnotes.com/tips/spaces-and-the-units-of-measurement-for-music-notation/

Read that this morning. Great article! -Thanks

Very informative article, thanks Philip!

It would be helpful to have the leading setting also in the text editor.

One of the biggest reasons for precision font sizes comes when matching different fonts to each other. 12pt in one font is not the same as 12pt in another font, it is indeed arbitrary. If there is a good reason to be using two different fonts (e.g. language support, or even pairing sans and serifs together), precision font size adjustments starts to be really important because that level of detail can be necessary to optically match two different designs. 0.5 pt is certainly not fine enough, 0.1 pt might be for most applications. But if there’s no technical limitation, why not let the user be as precise as they require?

Since one might wish leading to be tighter in some text uses than in others, adjusting it in Paragraph Styles gives more flexibility using the same text in different situations.

One criterion used by professional document designers is to achieve uniform “greyness” over the whole page, so using different leading for different purposes with the same font size and weight (normal/bold/italic etc) might end up looking messy.

Possibly so, but I still think that making/keeping leading a property property of Paragraph rather than Text styles would allow greater flexibility.