Roman numerals

emilie's picture

Would anyone know of a serif font (a classic as much as possible) that contains roman numerals? (I think roman numerals is the right name, by this I mean: I, II, III, IV, etc.). I've checked experts sets and couldn't find anything. Any input?


PS: Already posted this in the type ID forum but I wasn't sure if it really belonged there.

John Hudson's picture

Roman numbers are simply combinations of certain Latin letters used as numerals. That is, there is no Roman numeral II, there is only a Roman number II written with the numeral I. Similarly, there is only a number IV, written with the numerals I and V. The same two numerals are used to write the number VI, in the same way as the Arabo-European numerals 1 and 6 can be used to write the numbers 16 and 61. It is a good idea, when talking about numerals and numbers, to be clear about the distinction.

I think what you are looking for is a font that permits a stylised representation of a subset of Roman numbers, perhaps with a line above and below?

kps's picture

Well, there are Unicode code points for roman numerals (uni2160 - uni2183), but understandably few fonts fill them.

hrant's picture

Yes, I think Emilie is talking about the style with the rules, probably the one most often seen in pre-typographic writing, before expediency caused the adoption of a simple string of "X", "V", etc. The difference between normal caps and barred Roman numerals isn't just the bars though: I think the Roman numerals have to be smaller too - like smallcaps.

There must be some fonts like that, but I know of only one: ND Fontana (by Ruben Fontana).
But I'm not actually sure if the retail version has the Roman nums. All I know is that tipoGrafica magazine uses them, and they look sharp indeed:


1) They're in a sans font.
2) The bars are not full. But look at the bottom of that "V"! Wonderful.

BTW, I think one reason for the presence of Roman numerals in Fontana is that they're needed much more in Spanish than English (where things like "15th century" are the norm instead).

> there are Unicode code points for roman numerals

Hey, I didn't know that!
Maybe "true" Roman numerals will become the new black...


emilie's picture

Cool, thanks for all the input!

I wasn't too sure if they were usually written together (with the top and bottom bars) or spaced.

I was using Courier in pretty big size and it looked kind of weird with the serifs, especially that the spacing was so wide. I switched to FedraSans and now it doesn't look "off" if they don't touch each other.

Thanks for the distinction between numbers and numerals too, I'll try and remember that =)

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