Lowercase and numbers

bbpal's picture

Hi,
When setting some text all in lowercase with a sans serif font like Helvetica neue should I use the regular size numbers (that lines up with capital letters) or make them a smaller point size ( 80 or 90% smaller)?
I don't know if smaller numbers are available or even appropriate for that font.
I read in "Rules of typography" that one shouldn't use lining numbers with lower case and I don't know that applies to all fonts and if there are exceptions to that rule.
Many thanks,
Barbara

dan_reynolds's picture

I have occasionally set the numbers in a smaller point size this sort of instance. You need to experiment a little, because 8 or 9 point numbers set in otherwise 10 pt text will look too light.

This is easily solved with a superfamily like Helvetica. If you are using Helvetica Regular for the text, try setting the numbers in a slightly darker weight (medium or semibold). This can even everything out, if I remember correctly.

eriks's picture

one shouldn't use lining numbers with lower case and I don't know that applies to all fonts and if there are exceptions to that rule.

That is why some typefaces have numbers that will look good in most settings, i.e. those in lower case. Check out our own FF Unit.

unit_figures

hrant's picture

The numerals in FF Unit are what's generally called "hybrid" (although they're a bit on the mild side for me in terms of extension), and I heartily agree that they're the ideal overall scheme. Sometimes though other styles (like 3/4 lining) can be better, if rarely.

hhp

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