Correct kerning of numeral '1'

JDL's picture

Hi all,

Any thoughts on the correct kerning of the lining numeral '1'? Specifically, correct kerning when a sans-serif face whose '1' is simply a stem (dangerously close to an uppercase 'I' or lowercase 'l').

The context would be when old style figures aren't available however proportional spacing would be desirable, such as in body copy.


Nick Shinn's picture

IMO some space is required between 1 and the other numerals, even when kerning is possible.
These days, I provide proportional 1 with comfortable sidebearings.
If this space is not allowed for, numbers such as 1177 won't look right, because 7_7 is always going to be very airy.
The 1_1 combination does require some negative kerning, however.

charles ellertson's picture

I kern all (proportional) numbers. As Nick says, they interact with other numbers. The first model I use is for folios, for a text running over 300 pages. The second is dates, as Nick mentions. They have to look good for both usages.

Again as Nick says, they need their space -- it is easy to kern 7_4 too tightly, then when you have 774, you have a mess.

Don't forget punctuation, and such oddities as The Summer of '42

JDL's picture

Thanks both for your thoughts on this. You're spot on Nick; looks like there's plenty of negative kerning afoot!

quadibloc's picture

Oldstyle numerals may potentially have proportional spacing, and may be kerned in that case.

Normally, lining numerals do not kern, and they are monospaced. This permits the setting of tabular material. This has, in the past, also applied to oldstyle numerals, so it should be followed as well in their case if they are not an alternate style in a given font.

Of course, this applies to general purpose text typefaces only. A display typeface would not be used for the setting of tabular material.

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