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How To Create Your Own Inline, Diagonal Fractions

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The 7/18 and 3/4 on the bottom right are built-up fractions.

The 3/4 on the bottom left is ready-made. The 7/18 and 3/4 on the bottom right are built-up fractions.

Graphic © J. Bear
Although you could use an expert character set or math font that contains a wide variety of fractions, you can also create built-up fractions in graphics or page layout software. While the specific commands may differ from one program to the next, follow these general instructions to create your own typographically correct inline or diagonal fractions.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5-15 minutes to create and finetune built-up diagonal fractions

Here's How:

  1. Type the parts of the fraction.
    In order, type the fraction as numerator (top number(s)), fraction slash, then denominator (bottom number(s)) in the font of your choice. Depending on the font you might use the division slash (aka fraction slash or fraction bar) or a regular or italic forward slash or solidus. Use Shift-Option-1 on the Mac, Windows Character Map, or the special characters menu of your software to insert the division slash.

  2. Resize the first (top) number.
    Select the numerator and superscript it. Or, reduce the size by about 45-50% and move it up (vertical shift) so that the top of the character matches the top of the slash.

    Depending on your software and how it does superscripting the number may be too high. You'll need to adjust it down slightly.

  3. Resize the last (bottom) number.
    Select the denominator and subscript it or reduce the size by about 45-50%. It may be necessary to vertically adjust the superscript character so that it rests on and not below the baseline.

  4. Make adjustments.
    As needed, tweak the size of the numbers and the slash. Try making the numbers bold and adjust the horizontal and vertical placement or kerning until you get a fraction that looks right.

  5. Save your new fraction.
    Once you have a good fraction, copy it to your pasteboard for reuse elsewhere in your document.

Tips:

  1. Superscript 1, 2, and 3 are commonly found in many fonts and can be used to save time when constructing your own fractions. It still may be necessary to make positioning adjustments.

  2. The division or fraction slash is usually slightly more angled and a touch thinner than the solidus.

    Whether using a fraction slash or a solidus to separate fractions it may be necessary to change the size of the character to get a fraction that looks more like the ready-made, single keystroke inline fractions found in many fonts. This is especially important if using both ready-made and built-up fractions in the same document.

  3. Some type purists may frown upon constructing fractions as described above, preferring to construct them using an expert character set that includes a full set of superior and inferior numerals sized and spaced to match the ready-made fractions of that particular font.

  4. Share your own opinions about creating and using fractions or tips you've picked up from making your own fractions. Tell us how you finesse fractions.

What You Need

  • Digital Fonts
  • Expert Character Set (optional)
  • Page Layout or Graphics Software

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