I'm using Spacemacs, and it uses a few special unicode characters in the modeline. Some of them look fine, but others are microscopically tiny:

enter image description here

In this screenshot, notice that the a, y, and p circles look fine, but the K and S indicators are super tiny, to the point where I can't even see them. What could be going on here, and how can I fix it?

Edit: Here's another screenshot, showing a circled lowercase letter K next to a circled uppercase letter K. The lowercase letter displays fine, but the uppercase letter is really tiny.

enter image description here

  • Are they regular size when displayed in a buffer?
    – Tyler
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:14
  • Good question. It looks like they're super small in the buffer, too. I'll edit the question with a screenshot of that, as well.
    – Jonathan
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:39
  • 1
    In that case, it is probably an issue with the font itself. Unless the characters are a different size in another application (pasted into Word, for example), the most likely explanation is that these glyphs are actually smaller. You could also try changing font family in Emacs to see what the characters look.
    – Tyler
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:42
  • Maybe provide a recipe to repro it, starting with emacs -Q (no init file)?
    – Drew
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:47
  • if you do paste them into Word, make sure Word and Emacs are both using the same font :)
    – Tyler
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 15:48

1 Answer 1


It turns out that this is because the font I was using had some glyphs but not others, and it was falling back to a bitmap font of some sort. Since I have a HiDPI display, the bitmap font was really tiny. I fixed this by installing a bunch of fonts with good unicode coverage (Linux Biolinum), and this made it so that the fallback fonts were TTF instead of bitmap, mostly fixing the problem.

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