kerning instead of proportional figures

Primary tabs

6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Dave Rowland Schizotype Fonts's picture
Joined: 19 May 2009 - 6:33pm
kerning instead of proportional figures
0

What are your opinions on using kerning of tabular figures instead of adding proportional figures? That way the user could easily make figures tabular by turning kerning off, or proportional by turning it on.

Kent Lew's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
0

How is turning the kerning off for spans of numbers significantly easier than just applying a feature (or changing font style)?

IMO, good tabular figures are more than just proportional figures with the same set width.

Dave Rowland Schizotype Fonts's picture
Joined: 19 May 2009 - 6:33pm
0

good tabular figures are more than just proportional figures with the same set width.
granted, but are good proportional figures more than just tabular figures with different set widths?
In fonts I've examined, the outlines of tabular and proportional figures (both lining and oldstyle) are exactly the same, with the exception of the 1 (sometimes!). Seems to me that it makes more sense to add kerning to tabular figures rather than duplicate 10 or 20 glyphs, when I feel like my tabular figure outlines will also work adequately in a proportional setting.
Would it be possible to put a proportional figure 1 only into the proportional figures feature, along with the kerning? can you even put kerning into a feature other than the kern feature?

Nick Shinn's picture
Offline
Joined: 8 Jul 2003 - 11:00am
0

I’ve implemented some fonts with tabular glyphs in the tab features, and only “one” and “seven” (and sometimes “zero” in oldstyle) glyphs in the proportional features, kerned. (Kerning occurs between glyphs, irrespective of whatever feature they are in.)

However, I’ve done several typefaces where most, if not all, of the tabular and proportional figures have different glyphs.

**

It wouldn’t work to rely on users to turn kerning off/on—nobody reads the manual!

**

The worst thing is, many users—I hesitate to call them typographers—apply Optical Kerning as their default. Aaaaagh!!!!

Florian Hardwig's picture
Offline
Joined: 18 Feb 2007 - 6:41am
0

In addition to what Kent wrote: Keep in mind that tabular figures are rarely activated on an inline level, but typically are applied to the whole document, or at least to whole blocks like tables (manually or via paragraph styles). These blocks also include characters other than figures. You don’t want to lose the kerning for those other strings. Granted, in sophisticated applications, savvy users could tinker with GREP styles to address the figures only. Still, it is not easier, but harder.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
0

How do you think we did it back in the old days with photocomp? It was a pain in the posterior then, and it still would be.

& by the way, when I go into fonts and set them up for actual use, most proportional figures do not keep the same width as the tabular. As Nick says, there are exceptions, depending on the original design.

All you're seeing is laziness. Fonts used for setting text should have both tabular and proportional figures, & probably in each of old style and lining. Fonts for setting display don't need tabular at all, right?