I have run into a strange kerning issue, limited to the German letter pair Wä, when using the Adobe Garamond Pro font with XeTeX. The document looks great except for that particular pair. But see for yourself:

Kerning with XeTeX: enter image description here

Kerning, with the same font file, with LibreOffice: enter image description here

I could reproduce the strange same result on different machines both on mac osx and ms windows. I am quite confused about it and I would appreciate if you would share your thoughts on that XeTeX result. Is there a chance to get it work, i.e. without manipulating the kerning for each appearance of Wä manually?

  • 1
    How do you input ä and what packages do you use? A MWE would be helpful. Feb 22, 2012 at 21:49
  • 1
    I can confirm it happens with Xe(La)TeX but not with LuaLaTeX.
    – egreg
    Feb 22, 2012 at 21:57
  • I had noticed the same with Minion Pro and plain XeTeX.
    – morbusg
    Feb 23, 2012 at 7:05
  • And also with (with Minion at least)
    – morbusg
    Feb 23, 2012 at 7:28
  • 5
    This could be (but I really don't know much about lookups + kernings and how to check them) due to a bug of the ICU-engine just discussed at the mailing list: tug.org/pipermail/xetex/2012-February/022764.html. As an answer Jonathan Kew pointed to bugs.icu-project.org/trac/ticket/7753. Feb 23, 2012 at 8:54

2 Answers 2


Until the problem is solved, you can use this workaround based on XeTeX character classes (manual):




\newXeTeXintercharclass \Wclass
\newXeTeXintercharclass \aeclass

\XeTeXcharclass `\W \Wclass
\XeTeXcharclass `\ä \aeclass

\XeTeXinterchartoks \Wclass \aeclass = {\kern -3pt}


Wa Wä


enter image description here

  • Thank you, Andrey! This is a great workaround and works for me as a momentary solution. However, in your example, the -3pt make it worse, so I changed it to -0.5pt in my usage.
    – swisschris
    Feb 23, 2012 at 8:30
  • @swisschris: -3pt was just to emphasize the effect. Change it to whatever looks best. Feb 23, 2012 at 8:31

It appears to be a font-specific kerning problem. Below: Calluna, Warnock, Sabon, with XeLateX:




The W + ä overlapping also occurs with Minion and Caslon. I guess you could disable kerning with fontspec, but I don’t know how that could be done for just one pair.

  • 1
    Yes, it's definitely a font-specific problem. Thanks a lot for your well-arranged comparison! However, I am still asking myself if this qualifies for a XeLaTeX bug-report. The confusing point for me is that I get the W + ä overlapping with XeLaTeX but not with LibreOffice using the exact same font file.
    – swisschris
    Feb 23, 2012 at 0:23
  • @swisschris: Can you try LuaLaTeX and ConTeXt? Feb 23, 2012 at 7:33
  • @Martin: No, I can't. According to egregs comment (see above) the W+ä kerning is correct in LuaLaTeX.
    – swisschris
    Feb 23, 2012 at 8:15

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