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Chris Lozos
Posts: **1,080**

When creating an italic face, I have always sloped the math symbols along with the figures since this makes the most sense to me. But, I recently looked at Neue Haas Unica Pro Bold Italic, a recent release, and I was surprised to find that the math symbols were upright, as if they were upright roman! Is this odd? New thinking? Appropriate?

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## Comments

224432One online source that might help you is:

http://www.shearsoneditorial.com/2012/07/typographical-conventions-for-mathematics/

1,4161,284They look silly otherwise in text that is predominantly italic.

Now that math symbols are included in basic encoding, there’s no need to have them independent of typefaces, as they were originally, roman only as an economy.

For complex math setting, roman fonts are the default anyway, for most characters, with some letters picked out (manually selected) in italic. So it’s not as if the math typographer would ever be in the situation of having to change italic operators to roman.

511,4161,0801,284I personally have no trouble italicizing the multiply glyph!

If a typographer is setting complex mathematics, of the sort described by Küster, they will be using a specialist, serifed math font.

Therefore, all other italic fonts should have sloped math operators, and that means all sans serifs.

If typographers simply must have “proper” upright operators, they can access them in the Roman font.

Both methods are available for Helvetica and Times.

Above, Neue Helvetica Italic and Times New Roman Italic.

Below, Helvetica Oblique and Times Italic.

And of particular note, the same distinction is present between Cambria and Cambria Math (I would have shown it, but don’t have the fonts).

1,416based on what I subjectively think looks right or wrong, but with regard to the conventions of various kinds of typography and, hence, various kinds of fonts.

I'll also note that Brill's typographers were not only clear that they wanted the math operators upright in their italic fonts, but also a lot of other symbols and all parentheses, braces and brackets.

1,5592111,0801,416I can imagine providing slanted operators as a stylistic set in an italic font, but since I mostly make book types I'm not inclined to make them the default form.

763Like Google+ or band names like M+M, +/−.Equal signs are used in sentences.The movie title, E=mc2.Once you slant the plus and equal sign, where do you stop slanting? I think you have to go all the way.601,5591,416And book designers, and information designers, and packaging designers....

Oh, and typographers, if you can find any.

11336mathematica-journal.com

763We would probably get as many and as varied answers as here.

My experience is the same as what John observed above. And since my primary focus is also book and editorial text, I do not italicize math operators in an italic font.

Nor

copyright,registered, andtrademark. Nor verticalbar. And typically notdegree(although I have been somewhat inconsistent on this last one).763The rules are governed by the

International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants(the current version of which is known as the Melbourne Code, adopted in 2011).What is particularly worth noting in this context is the following recommendation from Article H.3 in the appendix about hybrids:

That last part seems to indicate a clear preference, on the part of botanists anyway, not to have the multiplication symbol slanted in the context of an italic font. And this has borne out in my experience working with gardening writers & editors.

1,080601,416figures(numerals) in italic fonts. We're just talking about the typical subset of math operator symbols for basic arithmetic included in typical text and display fonts.4761,284It would help if Multiply and Divide, rather basic math symbols, appeared on the North American keyboard, instead of ASCII tilde and ASCII circumflex.

At least, as font producers, we can make the En dash glyph identical to Minus—although that won’t keep most people from using the Hyphen.

601,416As Kent and I both noted previously, this is the norm in book typography and has been for a very long time. It derives ultimately from the typography of mathematics, to which you refer, in which operators and other symbols have normative forms that are not subject to styling of weight or slant, and in which, conversely, stylings of weight and slant of alphanumeric characters have semantic connotations. The logic of not italicising mathematical operators is simply this: the identity of the symbols is in both their shape and their orthogonal relationship to the baseline. And after many years working designing and setting these symbols, I really do read them that way: they just look wrong if they're slanted. I'd put italicised math symbols in the same category as 'sloped romans', a kind of contradiction in terms.

I'm no absolutist. I recognise a place for even sloped romans, and as noted above there are kinds of typography, and hence kinds of fonts, in which slanted math symbols make sense. If one is doing that kind of work, then I can clearly see that the lack of them in a font would be 'seen as a shortcoming'. My book publishing clients were equally clear that they viewed the slanting of math symbols in an italic font as a shortcoming.

If a font doesn't contain what you need to do the kind of work you're doing, use a different font. It's not like there's a shortage of the bloody things.

763To be clear, I wasn’t intending to argue right or wrong. I was just providing some perspective in response to Chris’s original questions:

Odd?New thinking?Appropriate?No, not in my opinion; certainly not; for some audiences, yes.

Exactly. And John and I have both explained how we see our buyers’ preferences (which I also take to be general preferences). But, like John, I don’t necessarily consider this to be absolute.Others should do as they see fit.

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