old style figures in titles

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John Smith's picture
Joined: 16 Oct 2010 - 10:25pm
old style figures in titles

So everyone I look, it seems that if you're going to use old style figures at all in a work, then anywhere titling figures appear, it'd better be in an all caps environment. But if we're to really stick with the

old style figures : titling figures :: lowercase : upper case

analogy, wouldn't that mean the '7' in

Chapter 7

ought not to have that descender? After all, in words, it would be "Chapter Seven." (It actually makes me pause when I see "September 23, 2010" and all the numbers are text figures. That can't be good, right?) But then, following the rule strictly,

Chapter 11

ought to have two different styles for the two different '1's. !!! =(

Another issue: the longer I stare at text figures mixed with small caps, the more out of place it looks. Why aren't there small caps figures too? Everything's looking ugly and I don't know what to do.

K Cerulean Pease's picture
Joined: 19 Oct 2003 - 5:03pm

Some of the more complete text faces do have small caps figures. If you're running into that issue a lot, you should get one.

As for "capitalization", numbers can't be made to follow exactly the same rules as words. I think it's sensible to want lining figures where you would expect a capitalized word; a book title like 22 Facts About Cheese begs for lining figures. But both digits should be lining, of course.

Nick Shinn's picture
Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am

IMO, figures in headlines and titles should generally be lining.

Because, as Kevin observes with "22", some combinations of old-style figures are just too small, and can look like a "wrong font" mistake.
This is camouflaged in body text, where the full variety of old style figures appears.

Since I've been making fonts in the OpenType format, all those with small caps have included small-cap-height lining figures, which are deployed by the OpenType menu command "All Small Caps". Several other type designers do likewise, so look for recently-designed typefaces to have this feature.