Name: háček, caron
Adobe PS: caron
Unicode: 02C7, 030C
Languages: Bosnian, Croatian, Czech, Estonian, Finnish, Inari Sámi, Latvian, Lingala, Lithuanian, Serbian, Skolt Sámi, Slovak, Slovenian, Yoruba


History and examples of use

The correct name for this mark is háček*, but it is known by many font developers as caron, and is labelled such in standard glyph names. No one has provided a satisfactory explanation of how the term caron originated: it does not occur in any dictionaries. Háček was originally specified for Czech, where it first appeared in 15th–16th century. It is used in other Slavic languages and also in Latvian and Lithuanin (there, it was introduced in 1919–1921 by professor Josef Zubatý). Beside that, it is commonly used for transcription from non latin-script languages.

* Háček is a Czech word meaning little hook. This mark goes by other names as well. In Slovak it is called mäkčeň (i.e. “softener” or “palatalization mark”), in Slovenian strešica (“little roof”), in Croatian, Serbian and Bosnian kvačica (also “small hook”), and hattu (“hat”) in Fennic languages.


Háček also denotes one of five tones in the pinyin latinised version of Mandarin Chinese. It is also used as a vowel rising tone mark in the orthographies of some tonal African languages like Yoruba or Lingala, and in the International Phonetic Association alphabet (IPA).


Háček may have similar shape to circumflex, only rotated by 180 degrees. If the circumflex is designed differently than the háček, both symbols should be of the same weight, because they may appear next to each other in Slovak and the word would not look right if they would not harmonise with each other. It is common that the strokes of the háček narrow in the upward direction. Apart from the most common, symmetrical version of háček, the symbol might be asymmetric or shaded, especially in classicist typefaces. In that case, it is necessary to respect the basic rules for drawing a typeface: the downward stroke should be stronger than the directing upwards. While in Czech or Slovak the háček may be both open and closed (depending on the overall design of the typeface), in Slovenian and Croatian the closed version is preferred.

A special shape of a háček, similar to an apostrophe, is used in Czech and Slovak with ď, ľ, Ľ and ť characters. It could be derived from the apostrophe or comma, but it should be more humble, smaller, and, importantly, narrower. Generally, the symbol should draw less attention than the comma. This special form could also take a straight shape similar to acute; this usually occupies less space than an apostrophe-like form and it does not cause as many problems in kerning. Vertically, the symbol is most often placed towards the ascender line, but its position does not necessarily have to be constant (with ť, it is often inevitable to place the accent higher that with the other characters). With capital Ľ, it is desirable that the accent exceeds the height of the character. This is mostly equivalent with justifying the upper edge of the accent to the ascender line.

Following recommendation was written by David Březina in his text On Diacritics written for I Love Typography.

… In Czech and Slovak, the caron has a special vertical form used on tall characters (ď, ť, ľ, Ľ). Its introduction was no doubt a solution to the limited vertical space available on the body of a piece of metal type. The regular caron (ě, š, č, ň, …) could not fit above the taller characters, therefore the vertical form was placed adjacent to the basic letter-shape. It is often mistakenly referred to as an “apostrophe-like accent”. But the alternative caron has nothing to do with the apostrophe! In fact, their similarity can be very confusing. The Czech word rozhoď (d with caron at the end) is the imperative form of “(do) scatter”. The word rozhod’ (apostrophe at the end), on the other hand, means “(he has) decided” in informal spelling commonly used in the literature. The possibility of text misinterpretation lead designers to come up with various ways of differentiating the caron from the apostrophe. The solution suggested by contemporary designers is based on a tight incorporation of the accents with the letters (see Peter Biľak’s Greta or some typefaces by František Štorm). The accent has a simple vertical wedge shape, whereas the apostrophe is larger and retains its typical comma-like form. Thus, the distinction between letters and punctuation remains clear.