Lining figures as first letter in sentence?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Does it make sense to use lining figures if it occurs in the beginning of a sentence?

Theunis de Jong's picture

Is the numbering equivalent to the next "2." in the sentence? If not, for example, because the first '2' is a list (and there is a #1 and a #3), it is possible, and provides a visual cue to the reader.

Otherwise, I'd set all numbers the same. The connection between Old style figures and lining figures is not the same as between capitals and lowercase.

cuttlefish's picture

It looks better that way to me, but I'm no authority on the subject. Generally one would write out numbers fewer than three digits long in text, depending on the type of publication.

But this is some kind of bibliographic entry, isn't it? or some kind of list item? Different rules apply to those.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

theunis: Yes, it is equivalent to the next "2.". I don't agree with your statement though: lining figures was originally supposed to be used with capitals.

cuttlefish: It reads "second" not "two" and is from a list of music pieces. The first number does not refer to it's place in the list.

cuttlefish's picture

In that case, I'd follow the number by the appropriate ordinal abbreviation for the language, though I think those may not apply by custom when referring to musical compositions.

Musical notation, even just text descriptions of it, are highly specialized with their own language rules that I'm not familiar with.

Nick Shinn's picture

I like the two kinds of figures being used for different kinds of layout function.
As in:

charles ellertson's picture

I don’t agree with your statement though: lining figures was originally supposed to be used with capitals.

Not quite right -- or not quite complete. Lining figures were designed to be used with all cap settings, as in


Except for a few poets & some typophilers, the rest of the world always throws in a few capitals here & there, even when generally setting "lower case".

There are times, in a cap & l.c. setting, when you would use lining figures, as with newspaper sections, e.g., C1 -- unless you set the "C" in small caps.

But it is the immediate paring without any intervening word space that seems the most determinate factor. I would find it odd (and certainly expensive) to use lining figures to begin a sentence. Do you also use full caps for an acronym that begins a sentence, if the same acronym is set in small caps when it falls in the middle of a sentence? If so, maybe the some stylistic logic would also have you set lining figures at the beginning of a sentence. I doubt it would result in serious jail time.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Love that one too, Nick! It's what got me thinking of it. This is a completely different setting though.

I'm not asking specifically for my situation. (I was allowed to write it out differently, which I'll prefer doing the next time a number ends up there as well.) Just wanted your opinion on the matter.

blank's picture

Nick, that’s a great example. I will definitely use it to give some editor a headache in the future.

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