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Working with variable fonts in Affinity apps

The ability to use variable fonts in all Affinity apps (Mac, Windows and iPad) opens up a new world of typographic design possibilities.

As well as providing predefined font styles, such as light, bold and condensed, variable fonts give you fine control of specific design aspects known as axes of variation (or just axes for short).

Examples of font variations along common axes: (A) weight (B) optical size (C) width.

Each axis can be adjusted individually, which allows for many more possible combinations than are available when using static fonts.

Depending on a font designer’s intent, you may be able to make other adjustments, such as:

  • The height of ascenders and descenders, to better fit your chosen line spacing.
  • The style of stem terminals, to choose between straight and swollen.
  • The width of counters, enclosed and partially enclosed spaces within glyphs, to affect legibility at your chosen font size.

Adjusting a variable font’s settings

To work with variable fonts in Affinity, apply one to your text and then:

  • On desktop, click the Font Variations button on the context toolbar (or on the Character Panel).
  • On iPad, tap the arrow to the right of Bold/Italic/Underline/Strikethrough on the Text Panel and then tap Variations.

Once you’ve followed the instructions above, you’ll see settings for each axis that the font designer has made individually adjustable.

Here are some ways to use variable font functionality in Affinity:

See some examples of how to use variable font functionality in Affinity Publisher.

Variable fonts and PDFs

As PDF doesn’t support variable fonts, when you export a PDF of an Affinity document that uses a variable font, you will get a static instance of the font with fixed settings. We’ve taken steps to ensure static instances of fonts are well-named. You should find this minimises the need to identify the original variable fonts if you later import or place the resulting PDFs.