Correct use of non-aligning numerals

miss c's picture

Could anyone advise me on how I should set '21st century' in terms of non-aligning numerals and superscript. I've attached a picture with various options and I'd be really grateful for words of wisdom.

Many thanks in advance.

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21stcentury.pdf21 KB
riccard0's picture

There was an older thread with the same question, but I'm unable to find it.
Some related ones starting here:
http://www.google.it/search?q=ordinals+site%3Atypophile.com

Nick Shinn's picture

The 20th century was bad for old-style figures, the 21st century no better, and 2010 is even worse!

My favourite year for old-style figures was/is the ambigrammatic 1961.

miss c's picture

Of the four options which would you use?

dtw's picture

"What is the appropriate form and function of the gallery in the twenty-first century?"
:^)
Isn't it a matter of personal taste? I don't like superscript ordinals, and always knock them back to full-size on anything anybody gives me to work on ... but I have no complaints when other people make a different choice.

EDIT: Nick – presumably because of the lack of any ascending/descending numerals, right? So we won't get out of that mire until 2013...

William Berkson's picture

Good question—for the type-crazed :)

I would definitely not do old style figures with superscript ordinals. I don't think superscript ordinals were ever used with old style, and they stick out above them in an awkward way, to my eyes.

You can use superscript with lining figures, providing you have designed superscript letters for the ordinals. Minion does have a designed superscript s and t, but here they look like fake superscript, made by the program, and are too small and light.

Also I am surprised by the small size of the Minion old style figures. I never noticed it before, but the 21 looks too small compared to the "the" and the "st," which is giving "21st" problems when you have old style figures and regular lower case. I don't understand this as Slimbach's Adobe Garamond and Adobe Jenson both have the short old style figures a bit taller than the overshoot height of o,e, etc. And I thought that was "normal". I think you are having problems partly because of what seems to me a mistake in Minion. (The other mistake in this otherwise fabulous font is excessive kerning of the quotes, IMHO.)

Microsoft Word's doing fake superscript ordinals with everything I think has put some people off them altogether. Mitchell & Wightman's Book Typography banishes superscript ordinals altogether (in English). I agree, since they seem to me pretty pointless.

However, I admit that in some fonts with superscript ordinals they can look OK with lining figures, provided the program actually gives you the designed superscript ordinals.

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