Components are part of the outline descriptions of a glyph. They are different from regular contours because they are references to other glyphs in the font.

contour (slash) and component (o)

Components make it possible to create glyphs out of other glyphs without copying-and-pasting data. With components, changing the base glyph also means changing all references to that glyph in the font.

The base glyph referenced by a component may contain components, but it must not create a circular reference to the glyph that contains the component.

Components can only reference glyphs within the same layer of the component.

In RoboFont 1, components in any layer refer to glyphs in the foreground layer.

Adding Components

To add components to a glyph, follow these steps in the Glyph Editor:

  1. Right-click on the canvas to activate the Editing Tool’s contextual menu.
  2. Choose Add Component to open the Add Components sheet.
  3. Use the options (glyph name, glyphs list) to choose a base glyph.
  4. Click on the Add Component button to insert the selected glyph into the current glyph as a component.


action description
typing… Restrict list to glyph names starting with typed characters.
arrow keys (↑ and ↓) Move up or down in the selection.
tab Jumps from Starts With to Contains and back.
enter Add selected glyph as component.
Copy Metrics Copy the component’s metrics to the current glyph.

Components Inspector

The properties of a Component object (base glyph, transformation) can be edited using the Components section of the Inspector.

Contextual menu

The glyph’s contextual menu (activated with a right-click) shows a list of all components in the glyph, and makes it possible to switch to the component’s base glyph for editing.

Working with components

Components are useful when working with modular shapes, or when developing fonts with multilingual character sets.

Components can be freely transformed (translated, scaled, rotated and skewed).

If you need to edit a component’s contours, you have 2 options:

  1. Go to its base glyph and edit the contours.

    These changes apply to all ocurrences of this glyph as component in the font.

  2. Decompose the component (using Decompose from the contextual menu). This will convert the base glyph’s outlines into regular contours, and remove any reference to the base glyph. Edit the contours as you like.

    There is no component anymore, so these changes apply only to the currently glyph.

Accented glyphs

The main use case for components is building accented glyphs. For example, an accented character /aacute is typically built with components to /a (base) and /acute (accent).

Last edited on 02/06/2020