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Fake small caps vs. true small caps

True small-capital letters require a font that supports small caps; i.e., the typeface has special characters designed to be approximately the same x-height as lowercase letters but using the uppercase letter shape. Fake small caps, created by reducing capital letters by 75 or 80 percent, stick out visually; they’re thin and spindly.

Although EPUB markup supports small caps (use “font-variant: small-caps” in the style sheet), not all ereader devices support small caps. One ereader where I was testing an e-book didn’t render small caps but instead made the text bold.

Below are four different typefaces. Can you tell which ones have true small caps?

Small caps examples

First group: Minion Pro
Second group: Apollo MT
Third group: Arial
Fourth group: Californian FB

About Sandra K. Williams

Sandra K. Williams loves books, both printed and digital. Since 1996 she has worked with authors and independent publishers, editing and designing books for print. Since 1999 she has built easy-to-use, accessible websites, and she uses her HTML and CSS skills to design reader-friendly e-books.

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