Old Style Figures (OsF)Also called non-lining figures, these Arabic numerals are not all the same height and some extend above and others below the baseline (like the ascenders and descenders on some lowercase letters).
In the illustration, above, the 1 appears in the style of the letter I in the Old Style figures. That's a feature of the font (Adobe Caslon Pro) and not necessarily the way the 1 appears in all Old Style figures.
Old Style, OldStyle, oldstyle, and old-style are all acceptable spellings.
Lining Figures (LF)A modern style of numerals also known as short ranging figures or regular numerals, lining figures are all the same height and all figures sit on the baseline. They are generally the same height as the uppercase letters in the typeface.
ProportionalWith proportional figures each character may occupy a different amount of horizontal space. A 1 takes up less space than a 5 or a 9.
Tabular (TF)Tabular figures are monospaced. Each character takes up the same amount of horizontal space.
Choosing Your FiguresSo, which is better? It really depends on how you plan to use the numbers. Old Style figures blend in well within a paragraph of text while lining figures work well with all caps and when alignment is more important than blending in. On the next page, discover best uses for each style. On subsequent pages learn how to access the various number styles of OpenType fonts in several software programs.
- Defining Old Style, Lining, Proportional, and Tabular Figures
- Designing with Old Style, Lining, Proportional, and Tabular Figures
- Accessing OpenType Number Forms in Adobe InDesign and QuarkXPress
- Accessing OpenType Number Forms in Microsoft Publisher and Word 2010
- Accessing OpenType Number Forms in Serif PagePlus