Theoretical question

Why are small caps and italics of the same typeface treated as if they were absolutely different (and, as a consequence, they aren't properly kerned)?

I know no —so to speak— «organic» family typeface (or software to generate so), in the sense that it has metrics between regular and italics (or bold). However, most OTFs/TTFs today include in the same file the small caps and its kerning character/class pairs. The fontspec package (?) seems to ignore this feature.

Practical question

Is there any way to kern pairs of small caps, italics and regular characters? There are some specific combinations which are annoying, such as small capital w and period or italic e and »: in the first case, the dot looks too far; in the second, the guillemot may even almost collide with some fonts.

XeteX ignores the definitions of \XeTeXinterchartoks when the characters are not only regular, only italics or only small caps.

MWE with simple macros



Kerning SC and italics

A second MWE involving a shorthand in the bibliography:

    author = {Marx, Karl and Engels, Friedrich},
    title = {{Werke}},
    shorthand = {\textsc{mew}},



This is a follow-up of this former question.

  • How are you typesetting 'w.' when 'w' is small-cap? If this is intended to be a question about the biblatex issue, you need to say so. Whichever way, please give a Minimum Working Example demonstrating the context. Otherwise, the answer is just going to be the same as my answer to your earlier question: make sure the punctuation is included in the scope of any font-affecting command which includes the letter. Remember, too, that a question should be self-sufficient. Fine to link for background, but you can't expect people to read comments on answers there to divine your meaning here. – cfr Jan 24 '15 at 16:23
  • Incidentally, does LuaTeX show the same effect? I'd more-or-less expect XeTeX to do so (although I don't know much about its innards), but prima facie I'd be more optimistic about LuaTeX. – cfr Jan 24 '15 at 16:24
  • @cfr. I've added two MWE. The first one involves only simple macros and the second refers to a shorthand with small caps. I can't tell of LuaTeX because I don't use it. – Ludenticus Jan 24 '15 at 17:15
  • 1
    traditionally, small caps have more generous spacing than ordinary lowercase. the spacing here between small cap "a" and "w" is not surprising. another comment, not really relevant to question itself: regardless of what adobe might call them, they are not "guillemots" (those are small dark sea birds); they are "guillemets". – barbara beeton Jan 24 '15 at 17:27
  • @barbarabeeton I might have underlined that the problem lies not in the AW kerning, but in the distant period – Ludenticus Jan 24 '15 at 17:29

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