Nuts about fractions

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Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
Nuts about fractions
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Palatino Linotype has them, but does anyone know of examples of other digital types that contain nut fractions?

Cheers, Si

Will Powers's picture
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Joined: 16 Jun 2005 - 10:32pm
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If any style of fraction is to be called "Vulgar," it'd be those ones I see in mss all the time, with all 3 elements on the baseline. As in: 1/2 or 17/32. Now that's Vulgar.

I think the "standard fraction" Tiffany asked about has generally in typography/typesetting been called a "case fraction," for once upon a time they were common enough that they could be found in a many typecases for use by hand comps.

Piece fractions had several manifestations in metal type, both machine-set and hand-set. Take a look at these pages to see what a Linotypist had to do to compose some piece fractions.

Linotype horizontal-stroke piece fracs:
http://books.google.com/books?id=XxcPAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA171&lpg=PA171&dq=%22p...

http://books.google.com/books?id=eTJ8khmZie0C&pg=PA617&lpg=PA617&dq=%22p...

I seem to recall that in hand-set type there were numerator sorts that carried the number plus half the virgule and denominator sorts that carried the number plus the other virgule half. Then there were fraction superior sorts for 2-digit numerators or denominators. These had none of the virgule, and were placed left or right of the other digit as needed. It was complex work back then.

powers

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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Thanks Will!

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Great information! Thank you, Will.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Is there a (nick)name for the standard fraction?

David Berlow's picture
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Joined: 19 Jul 2004 - 6:31pm
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>...with all 3 elements on the baseline. As in: 1/2 or 17/32. Now that’s Vulgar.

We didn't make these at Linotype. We called the others vulgar, nut or incendiary fractions.

Cheers!

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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And what about the fraction with no line? It's a great idea and very effective but I don't know its history.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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Is there a (nick)name for the standard fraction?

I call them Slash Fractions.

Jos Buivenga's picture
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Joined: 19 Nov 2005 - 5:11pm
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mmm... a Nick name. Oh, cut it off ;)

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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In that case we should rename nut fractions to Axl fractions.

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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incendiary ..... bwaahahahha

Jos Buivenga's picture
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Joined: 19 Nov 2005 - 5:11pm
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Nut case closed then?

David Berlow's picture
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Joined: 19 Jul 2004 - 6:31pm
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>Is there a (nick)name for the standard fraction?
Vulgar, (not kidding).

Cheers!

John Nolan's picture
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Joined: 6 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Founder’s Caslon, lots of Carter’s faces: Skia, Big Caslon, CC Galliard, Monticello.

Kent Lew's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
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John beat me to it. CC Galliard immediately came to my mind.

Also, Roy Preston was at one time working on a huge family (his magnum opus, you might say) called Preference, which has fraction fonts, in several weights, that compose wonderful, complex nut fractions. I don’t know if he ever completed the whole family.

— K.

Nick Shinn's picture
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Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
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What’s a nut fraction? Is that when the superior figure is directly above the inferior, and the “virgule” is horizontal?

John Hudson's picture
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Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Yes, Nick, that’s it. So called because it is typically an en width. 1) There are two practical drawbacks to nut fractions: the numerator and denominator are typically smaller than in regular fractions, often too small for use at the littler sizes. For example, here is a comparison from Palatino Linotype:
Fraction comparison
2. There is easy way to make arbitrary fractions, because the bar has to stretch over the denominators. To do this sort of thing you need a mathematical layout tool, whereas regular fractions of any size can be fairly easily made, with the right components, in any page layout or word processing application. Nut fractions are only good for a limited number of ‘standard’ fractions.

Jim Rimmer's picture
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Joined: 2 Nov 2003 - 12:38pm
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If anyone cares, the old term for an em is “mutton”, which I guess gave us “em”, and the nut gave us “en”.

Jim

Kent Lew's picture
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Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
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Hmm. I learned it the other way around: that “em” and “en” came first. But in a noisy print shop, especially if there were Linotypes or Monotypes clattering away, these two sounded too similar and nicknames like “mutton” and “nut” were used to make them more distinct. (Sort of like the purpose of “alpha, baker, charlie, delta …”)

I don’t recall where I first heard that explanation.

I’ve also heard of “mary” or “molly” used for an em; but I’ve only ever heard of “nut” for an en.

— K.

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Joined: 16 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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>only ever heard of “nut” for an en.

I’ve also heard ‘nellie’ used for ens. As in ‘nuts & muttons’ or ‘mollies & nellies’. Don’t know how common it is though.

Simon Daniels's picture
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Joined: 11 Apr 2002 - 6:37pm
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Hi

Thanks to everyone that provided an answer here and off-list. The availability of a number of typefaces with this style of fraction will help us argue for their support in the XAML mark-up language.
http://longhorn.msdn.microsoft.com/lhsdk/core/overviews/about%20xaml.aspx

Cheers, Si