I wonder how many fonts out there have a usable ordn feature(updated )
While working on a translated version of my site, I accidentally discovered that Lato’s ordn (ordinal) feature produces glyphs that can’t be used, because they’re not the same size as the Unicode ordinal a (ª) and ordinal o (º) glyphs.
Lato’s ordn glyphs are too small; correctly sized glyphs can be synthesized by scaling regular glyphs by 66% then shifting them up 1.3ex (and ideally scaling up the weight, by 1.5).
I wouldn’t have faulted them for making this mistake, except Lato was designed in Poland; but on second thought, maybe Polish doesn’t use superscripted ordinal endings? A Spanish-speaking designer — who’d be used to seeing ordinal a and o — or a French-speaking designer — who’d have to deal with ordinal e, r and s and expect them to look exactly like ordinal o[Note 1] — (or perhaps even an old-fashioned English-speaking designer who wants ordinal d, h, n, r, s and t) would probably have had more of an incentive to make sure the two sets of ordinal glyphs looked consistent.
(Actually, I’d imagine a French-speaking designer would probably have designed the whole set of ordinal-sized letters from a to z since using superscripts to indicate abbreviations seems to be alive and well in French[Note 2] — unlike in English where the practice is still used in the wild but frowned upon by professionals.[Note 3])
My hunch was this is probably a widespread problem but after randomly checking some fonts on my hard drive, I found that most fonts that support sups (superscript)[Note 4] actually got it right.
The first font I checked was Minion — InDesign’s default font — and it got it right. Alegreya, JuniusX and Manuele — fonts designed either by Spanish speakers or Mediaevalists — also got it right. Most fonts don’t even support sups.
It looks like familiarity with superscripted endings does make a difference,
even if it’s just the two Unicode glyphs.
If a Spanish-speaking designer bothers to implement sups (and presumably ordn),
it looks like it will be done right.