Dial a number

Have you noticed that some fonts have a 3 or 9 hanging below the baseline, making them appear larger than 1 or 2, while the 8 rises above them all? Other fonts have numbers aligned neatly from top to bottom. What you see is old style and lining pieces. You may have heard of both terms, but are you familiar with the differences between proportional cladding patterns and tabular cladding patterns? This is most noticeable when trying to align columns of numbers. The old style also comes in proportional and table styles. On this and following pages, you’ll learn the differences in each style, how to find them in a font, and when to use each style.

  1. Old Style, Liner, Proportional and Tabular Definition
  2. figure shaping (LF)
  3. proportional
  4. Table (TF)
  5. Shape selection
  6. Old Style Design, Lining, Proportional and Tabular Figures
  7. Open OpenType number forms in Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress
  8. How to Open OpenType Number Forms in Microsoft Publisher and Word 2010
  9. Open OpenType number forms in Serif PagePlus

Old Style, Liner, Proportional and Tabular Definition

Old Style Figurines (OsF)

These Arabic numerals, also called unlined numerals, are not the same height, some extending above and others below the baseline (like ascending and descending with some lowercase letters).

In the image above, 1 appears in the style of the letter I in the old style drawings. This is a feature of the font (Adobe Caslon Pro) and not necessarily how the number 1 appears in all old style drawings.

  Старый стиль, OldStyle, oldstyle и old-style - все приемлемые варианты написания.  

figure shaping (LF)

The modern style of figures, also called short figures or regular figures, the liner figures are the same height and all figures are placed on the baseline. They are usually the same height as the capital letters in the font.


With proportional numbers, each character can occupy a different amount of horizontal space. 1 takes up less space than 5 or 9.

Table (TF)

Table figures are one-sided. Each character takes up the same amount of horizontal space.

Shape selection

So which is better? It really depends on how you plan to use the numbers. Old style shapes fit well in a paragraph of text, while alignment shapes work well with capitalization and when alignment is more important than merging. The next page lists the best use cases for each style. In the following pages, you will learn how to access the different OpenType font number styles in different programs.

Source materials:
http://help.fontshop.com/entries/204834 -what-all-all-these-abbreviations-mean

Old Style Design, Lining, Proportional and Tabular Figures

Proportional drawings of the old style are attractive within a paragraph of text as the different heights are visually combined with the ups and downs of mixed upper and lower case letters. They don’t work very well when typing text in capital letters. If you like the look, use them in books, newsletters and brochures.

  • Proportional numbers for liner work well when capitalized proportional text is used, because all numbers will be on the capitalized baseline. Because the characters are different widths, they don’t work well in columns of numbers.
  • Old style table figures is an option if you like the look of numbers of different heights, but need the numbers to appear in columns, such as financial documents, tables, charts, or numbered lists. Because they are the same size, table numbers may not look as good in headings and other display text that contains numbers. For example, use proportional numbers instead of a lot of kerning to cover up the extra space around 1.
  • Table lining of numbers allows you to align all numbers in tables and columns, as well as align horizontally with capital letters and currency symbols. As with old tables, they often don’t look as good on display sizes where column alignment is not required.

For more information on using different number styles and widths, see “How to Find Out: OSF, LF, and TF,” explained by Ivo Gabrovich, “Old Style Drawings Vs. Lined” by Carol Saller, and “Proportional and Tabular Figures by Ilena Strizver.

Open OpenType number forms in Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress

Many modern OpenType fonts have two or more graphic styles. Not all software has access to all numeric forms of OpenType fonts, and even with software that does, it may take a bit of trial and error to see which styles are included.

For Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress, you must select the text to which you want to apply a non-default number style, open the OpenType palette, and select a graphic style from there. However, you may have to work through trial and error, as explained by Ilin Strizver in OpenType figures:

  "В настоящее время ни палитра Quark, ни InDesign OpenType не имеют идеальной системы для отображения пользователю, какие стили рисунков доступны в любом данном шрифте. В обоих приложениях вы можете использовать палитру глифов, чтобы выяснить, Старый стиль и подкладочные цифры включены в вашу гарнитуру, но палитра глифов не скажет вам, включены ли пропорциональные или табличные версии. " 

In Adobe CS4 and later, unavailable number styles in OpenType menus have square brackets around the option.

How to Open OpenType Number Forms in Microsoft Publisher and Word 2010

Select text in a Publisher 2010 document and open the Font dialog box. Under OpenType Features, select one of the available number styles. For fonts without additional features, the OpenType options are not available.

In Microsoft Word 2010, select the text you want to change and open Font dialog box ctrl+d ), select Tab “Advanced” then select the desired distance between numbers ( proportional or tabular form ) and number form ( lining or old style

Open OpenType number forms in Serif PagePlus

Serif PagePlus X5 has added OpenType capabilities. The screenshots above are from the X5 owner’s manual. To apply OpenType features (if available), select the text, then open the OpenType tooltip and select one of the available numeric options. You can also apply features to text styles for quick formatting by selecting Format > Draw and then the parameter Symbol – OpenType † If available, styles and widths are in the section Numeric

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