Tabular Lining

tabrez's picture

Hi all,

I'm trying to find some font families that are “Tabular Lining” enabled. Currently I've got the (beautiful) Founders Grotesk by Klim Type and this works fine. I can't seem to find any other fonts that have this feature though, even Gotham Rounded!

How can you find out what fonts allow for Tabular Lining?


Frode Bo Helland's picture

As a default setting, or with OpenType? I cannot imagine anyone would release a text font without tabular lining figures accessible with OpenType today (unless it is one that is solely intended, and only usable, for typesetting novels).

quadibloc's picture

Most text fonts have digits that are all the same width. But that doesn't mean they would have the OpenType feature of Tabular Lining enabled or even recognized. I can't tell you if that will be a problem or not.

Michel Boyer's picture

If you have texlive installed (MacTeX on OS X), you can use the line command otfinfo. For instance

  otfinfo -f *.[ot]tf | grep Figures

lists all .otf and .ttf fonts in the current directory with one of the features lnum, onum, pnum, tnum and gives you which of these features figure in the font.

Thomas Phinney's picture

In most fonts, the default numerals are tabular and lining, whether or not there is any OpenType feature to access them. The absence of the OpenType feature code should not be taken as the absence of the relevant styled glyphs.

Michel Boyer's picture

I guess we can deduce the default from the features available (if some are present). For instance for Palatino Linotype coming with Office otfinfo -f gives

 onum	Oldstyle Figures
 pnum	Proportional Figures

which means that one can switch to Oldstyle and to Proportional, meaning that the default should be Tabular Lining. On the other hand, with Brill, otfinfo -f gives

 lnum	Lining Figures
 tnum	Tabular Figures

which means we can switch to Lining and to Tabular, and we may deduce that the default should be Oldstyle Proportional.

R.'s picture

And in fonts that have only one type of figures, you could probably check the font file to see if all figures are of equal width. If that is the case, I would always assume the figures to be lining (instead of hanging). Or are there any fonts that only include tabular old-style figures?

Michel Boyer's picture

How do you check the width without opening the file. The advantage of line commands is that you can batch process (if you can write bash scripts). You can take hundreds of fontfiles and tell which features are present. For widths, you would need a Python script. One case I find troubling is Cambria which gives

Cambria.ttf:lnum	Lining Figures
Cambria.ttf:onum	Oldstyle Figures
Cambria.ttf:pnum	Proportional Figures
Cambria.ttf:tnum	Tabular Figures

and I see no way to guess the default (but that is irrelevant with the question that was asked; you probably need to know the default only if you are stuck with an old version of Word).

R.'s picture

I don’t know much about how to extract the relevant information from the font files. I’m just saying that the method of checking the presence of OpenType features fails in fonts that don’t have any (which are abundant). What I have described is simply one way of finding out if the default figures are tabular lining. Whichever way you do this, it seems relatively easy and errorproof to me.

Michel Boyer's picture

What you have described is a way do determine if the default is tabular (and without checking for features). That can be done with the following script using ffPython (the Python coming with the latest binaries of Fontforge for the mac).

#!/usr/bin/env ffpython

import fontforge,sys[1])
for h in range(0x31,0x3A):
  if fnt[h].width != w:
    tab="Not Tabular"
print tab

If you put that script in the executable file tabular, then calling

tabular <fontfile>

will tell you if the digits in the range 0x30, 0x39 are the same width or not.

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