Design guidelines proportional pitched fonts

I searched the internet and a big local bookstore for a good resource on designing proportional pitched fonts.

I know there is no fixed rule-book on how the width of a specific glyph or ligature is determined, but are there general rules of thumb or a guideline where to start from?

Which letter does one typically start from? Are there approximations of relationship between different glyphs, e.g. “m” and “n” and “r” or something like that?

Any tips, book recommendations will help. Thank you guys.


I would recommended Designing Type by Karen Cheng. She goes through various relationships between letters with regards to width but also stroke thickness variations and vertical proportions depending on type families, as well as side bearings, kerning, etc. Typically, the uppercase M will be the wider letter in terms of proportions. We use her book for a typographic design class where I teach.

She advises to start setting the proportions and personality of your font by starting with a, e, g, n and o. Then you can work on a word often used by type designers “hamburgefontsiv“. From this word you can build most of the other letters.

Source : Link , Question Author : The_Higgs_Boson , Answer Author : curious

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