Caslon tabular Old style numerals

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Christopher Roeleveld's picture
Joined: 1 May 2004 - 11:41am
Caslon tabular Old style numerals
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I've been using Adobe Caslon Pro and noticed that the old style figures have these almost perfectly round 0's. Is this specific to Caslon? What's the history behind this glyph? I rather like it.

I should note that I am but a humble undergrand student...so if this is obvious...be gentle.

paul d hunt's picture
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Joined: 5 May 2005 - 8:44pm
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this is a fairly typical form of the oldstyle zero. it is often seen as a unmodulated circular shape to distinguish it from the lowercase letter o.

Christopher Roeleveld's picture
Joined: 1 May 2004 - 11:41am
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thanks paul.
incidentally, are there any non-old style faces that use this same technique to differentiate between zero and lowercaseo o?

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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According to Walter Tracy, 'Letters of Credit,' the round 0 in old style numerals follows scribal tradition, which was done to avoid confusion with the letter o.

Incidently, as is usual in type design, what looks geometrical isn't. In Adobe Caslon old style 0 the inner circle is an oval, and consequently the vertical arches are fatter than the horizontal ones.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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>non-old style faces

I'm not sure whether you'd call Scala old-style (although its default figures are old-style), but it has this feature -- even in the sans.

Paul Stanley's picture
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Joined: 23 Mar 2003 - 5:42pm
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On the roundness, I seem to recall something in Smeijers' Counterpunch about 0 being traditionally cut using a drill (not a counterpunch) so that it truly was a perfect circle. I don't know whether, apart from the typographical convenience of distinguishing 0 and o, there was also some sort of almost mystical attraction to using a perfect circle to represent zero.

I really like the circular and monoline 0, but I think I'm in a minority. The current fashion at least seems to be to use some other device to distinguish oldstyle 0 and o.

James Mark Hatley's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2004 - 11:00am
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Fournier is that way I believe. It always startles me a bit when I see it.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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I've never liked that figure. I'm trying to think of any typefaces which use this historical model that I do like. I can't. Hmm.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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The circular zero always looks like a hollow bullett or a degree sign to me and never seems to resolve itself as part of the type forms to me. This is purely a personal opinion but it does drive me nuts everytime I see it.

ChrisL

Christopher Roeleveld's picture
Joined: 1 May 2004 - 11:41am
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I do find the oldstyle zero rather distracting when it shows up on almost every page of a book. On smaller documents, however, i feel that it can often be the thing that livens up the page.
I also like dashed zeros. Not enough typefaces have that.

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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>I’m trying to think of any typefaces which use this historical model that I do like.

This one, Georgia--102 304 506 70809?

Just checked not on screen and the 0 in Georgia is modulated when its not on screen. The hinting must make it look more uniform here on Typophile. But it looks pretty good on screen.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Ah. I was referring to the perfectly circular.

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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I was correcting my post when you responded. What do you think of the screen Georgia? Not perfectly circular--it looks a bit squared out--but then neither is Adobe Caslon, in a different way.

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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Perfectly round on the screen is a lot togher to do. When you are at one or two pixel stroke width, there isn't much you can do to create a round curve.

ChrisL

Thomas Phinney's picture
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Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am
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Although it is very historical, I too find the perfectly circular zero-contrast oldstyle zero very distracting in most typefaces.

T

Chris Lozos's picture
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Joined: 25 Feb 2004 - 11:00am
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"...I too find the perfectly circular zero-contrast oldstyle zero very distracting..."

ChrisL

Steve Peter's picture
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Joined: 8 May 2004 - 11:00am
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Well, Chris, what can I say? You're right on target.

Héctor Muñoz Huerta's picture
Joined: 21 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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I like circular zeros, but they must have enough weight to fit the color of the face which many circular zeros lack.

Héctor

William Berkson's picture
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Joined: 26 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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I agree with Héctor here. Sometimes the weight is too light. But for it to work, the zero also must be not really uniform, but only appear to be so on first glance. Adobe Caslon--and the originals of William Caslon--are not uniform circles, but just give the impression of being so.

The 'bulls eye' ring, as Chris illustrates with his usual humor, is disturbing. To me the on-screen version of Georgia's 0, which looks circular, also works, as you can see in the following. Zero: 0; and oh: o. Alternating in a row: 0o0o0o

Steve Peter's picture
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Joined: 8 May 2004 - 11:00am
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Another technique to distingush lower-case zero from a lower-case o is what Hermann Zapf did with AMS Euler. He made the zero slightly egg shaped. Admittedly, Euler isn't a text face, but I think the idea has merit.