Why incomplete subscript/superscript alphabet ?

Jukka K. Korpela jkorpela at cs.tut.fi
Fri Sep 30 11:31:58 CDT 2016

30.9.2016, 19:11, Leonardo Boiko wrote:

> The Unicode codepoints are not intended as a place to store
> typographically variant glyphs (much like the Unicode "italic"
> characters aren't designed as a way of encoding italic faces).

There is no disagreement on this. What I was pointing at was that when 
using rich text or markup, it is complicated or impossible to have 
typographically correct glyphs used (even when they exist), whereas the 
use of Unicode codepoints for subscript or superscript characters may do 
that in a much simpler way.

> The
> correct thing here is that the markup and the font-rendering systems
> *should* automatically work together to choose the proper face—as they
> already do with italics or optical sizes, and as they should do with
> true small-caps etc.

While waiting for this, we may need for interim solutions (for a few 
decades, for example). By the way, font-rendering systems don’t even do 
italics the right way in all cases. They may silently use “fake italics” 
(algorithmically slanted letters). (I’m not suggesting the use of 
Unicode codepoints to deal with this.)

> I agree that our current systems are typographically atrocious and an
> abomination before the God of good taste, and I don't blame anyone for
> resorting to Unicode tricks to work around that.

I don’t think it’s a trick to use characters like SUPERSCRIPT TWO and 
SUPERSCRIPT THREE. The practical problem is that at the point where you 
need other superscripts that cannot be (reliably) produced using similar 
codepoints, you will need to consider replacing  SUPERSCRIPT TWO and 
SUPERSCRIPT THREE by DIGIT TWO and DIGIT THREE with suitable markup or 
formatting, to avoid stylistic mismatch. This isn’t as serious as it 
sounds. When that day comes, you can probably do a suitable global 
replace operation on your texts.


More information about the Unicode mailing list