Font suggestions: need to have old-style figures

McBain_v1's picture

Hello all.

I have been given the job of trying to give our Board Reports a bit of a face-lift (largely on the strength of my desktop wallpaper being 'typographically themed' - now I'm in a panic! Our corporate typeface is Helvetica (but the brand guide actually endorses the use of Arial due to its ubiquity in most large companies). Our MD has said that he doesn't particularly like Arial and would not object to some other styles, "as long as they are easy to read".

Board reports have typically been in Arial at 11pt size, with standard page layout of 1inch margins all around (something I would also like to change), justified (which has resulted some awful looking pages when web addresses have been included). Line spacing has varied between 1.25 and 1.5. The software used for producing the reports is the standard version of Microsoft Word 2010.

This may sound like a daft question from an utter newbie (which I am), but: are there any sans-serif fonts that have 'old-style' figures included as well as the 'lining' type as well? If not, then I am guessing that I am after a serif font (slab or otherwise) that can offer this option.

Commercially available fonts as well as 'free' fonts suggestions are welcome. Hope that some of you can help.

Aaron Thesing's picture


I'm guessing if you have Word 2010 you also have Corbel and Calibri, both have a ‘full’ set of figures (proportional & tabular versions of lining & old style = 4 sets). Checking in Word 2007, Corbel seems to use proportional old style figures by default. (They're both part of the ClearType Font Collection, which are almost certainly the most feature-rich faces you have on your office comp.)

There are many other sans-serif fonts with OSF(old style figures) if you want to buy a specific one.

If your company has a designer, I bet they'd be happy to consult with you too.

McBain_v1's picture

@Aaron Thesing
Thank you for your response, much appreciated. The link to the My Fonts website is very useful - there are a bewildering array of styles there. I am guessing that those fonts with "WEB" next to them are primarily designed for web pages rather than printed output.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

No, they’re not. That just means they are available for web use as well. (Although most of them won’t look anything like intended on Windows.)

McBain_v1's picture

@frode frank
Thank you for the clarification, although I am a tad mystified as to why fonts won't look anything like they are supposed to on Windows. Is this because the Windows operating system has a problem displaying OpenType fonts? Is it something to do with "hinting" or the like?

Té Rowan's picture

Most commercial fonts and faces are targetted at the printing industry which regards a resolution of 600×600 dpi as shockingly coarse. A computer monitor usually has a resolution of 100×100 dpi or thereabout. ClearType and similar tricks can fake ca. 300×100 dpi on a sunshiny day. So, Win or Mac, text will rarely look as good on screen as on paper. And, yes, hinting is about nudging the font into looking as good as possible on screen.

On the other hand, text on screen can be resized and reset to what feels good for you, here and now. Rather difficult to do that on paper.

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Most of them don't have any hinting at all. Just straight auto conversion by Myfonts.

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