I need to utilize numerals with macrons positioned over them for the mathematical notation involved in the Hermann–Mauguin notation of crystalline space groups.

OS X has nice Unicode support, so having digits with combining macron is not a problem. See: 4̄ (4 + macron above it; the macron is like a bar).

However, as soon as I try to paste it into Word 2011, it gets displayed incorrectly (the macro is offset to the left, looking somewhat like a superscript: 4).

Here's the macron, correctly displayed in UnicodeChecker:

enter image description here

and here's the one pasted into Word:

enter image description here

So, how can I manage to input/paste combining macrons in Word 2011?

  • Since this seems to be impossible, can you consider a workaround? Especially if this is for somewhat mathematical context, you could use the formula mode in Word and insert a line above a digit. This seems to work OK. There are implications: not portable to old versions of Word or other word processors, the font will be what the formula mode uses (and thus possibly different from your copy text font), etc. – Jukka K. Korpela Sep 10 '13 at 13:10
  • In what situations or circumstances does one need to use macrons with numerals? – user9290 Sep 10 '13 at 13:19
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    @WheatWilliams the Hermann–Mauguin notation of crystalline space groups – F'x Sep 10 '13 at 13:25
  • The page mentioned uses CSS styling with text-decoration: overline, a practical solution on an HTML page, and there are good reasons not to try to use combinining macron on a web page. In a Word document, the situation is different, but here too I would abandon the idea of using combining macron (even though it is a correct idea in principle). Using Word formula mode, you can get a line above so that its vertical position is suitably above the base character. – Jukka K. Korpela Sep 10 '13 at 14:29
  • See this suggestion as well: apple.stackexchange.com/a/101791/55567 – beroe Sep 14 '13 at 21:21

First make sure that the macron is available in the font that you use for digits. If a combining mark is taken from a font other than the font of the base character, the result will usually be poor, except by accident. See a list of fonts containing U+0340 (not exhaustive, but useful).

Secondly, the result still depends on the font and on the rendering software. Word processors haven’t been good at this, though they are getting better. In principle, the rendering software should position the combining mark according to the dimensions of the base character, according to the information that is, or should be, in the font file. In practice, this often fails, resulting in some fixed position. The vertical position tends to be suitable for lowercase letters without ascenders, less suitable (or quite unsuitable) for taller characters, like digits in a typical font.

It seems that e.g. for Arial, the placement information in the font is all wrong, resulting in too low position but also badly misplaced to the right. This looks very much like the in the image you included.

Thus, you may need to experiment with fonts to get a reasonable result. Using most fonts, the rendering is awful or miserable. In my quick test, the following fonts seem to result in acceptable rendering (and they are all free): Charis SIL, DejaVu Sans, Doulos SIL, Gentium Basic, Gentium Book Basic. Update: That was too quick, I tested on a web browser, where I can conveniently get a list of all fonts in my system to try. In Word, even these fonts seem to go wrong.

  • I'm using Arial (which includes the macron) in both Word and UnicodeChecker… the same happens with Times New Roman, or all fonts I tried which actually. So it's not a problem with the font, but Word not reading the font right. Thanks however for pointing out that Word manages to get it right with some other fonts (and I have Gentium, so I guess I'll use that) – F'x Sep 10 '13 at 11:41
  • You’re right, the problem seems to be in Word. I’m afraid it will be difficult to find fonts that work in it in this respect. – Jukka K. Korpela Sep 10 '13 at 12:58
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    If you can use COMBINING OVERLINE U+0305 (longer, connects on both sides) instead, you might find a font where it works even in Word. But I’m not optimistic, my tests in Word with it give negative results. – Jukka K. Korpela Sep 10 '13 at 13:05
  • For what it's worth, I think you will find the same behavior with Apple's Pages. – Tom Gewecke Sep 10 '13 at 13:35
  • @TomGewecke Pages seemed to render 4̄ fine for me using Helvetica and Lucida Grande, but not with Arial or Helvetica Neue. – beroe Sep 11 '13 at 0:51

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