Tabular figs in bold+ weights

Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 568
edited May 2012 in Technique and Theory
What do you do when you realize that extra-bold versions of your figures will never fit in the width at which you have set tabular figures in slimmer weights?
Is the narrowest width in which you can squeeze an acceptable /8/ or /0/ at your boldest target weight effectively the tabular advance width for that font?


  • Lata gataLata gata Posts: 758
    I've never much worried about maintaining the same set of metrics across tabular figures of different weights.
  • James ToddJames Todd Posts: 207
    I could see maintaining the same width being important in the bold weight but I would imagine it would be less likely that the regular, bold and extra-bold tabular figures would all be used together in the same column (or that a slight change in width would be unacceptable if all three were used together).
  • Craig EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 568
    @jmontalbano That surprises me. I would imagine that bolding some figures in a table would be a pretty common situation.

    But my initial problem might have resolved itself when I remembered that I only intended to do the extreme weights in the "display" cut of the typeface, and on reflection it seems like there's not much point to tabular figures in a display font. Right?
  • cheat
  • Lata gataLata gata Posts: 758
    @Craig A pretty common situation, but bolder widths center nicely under lesser ones. It has never been much of a problem. A lot of this cramped metrics stuff is leftover from LinoType days. Free at last.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 427
    I have to say I agree with James P: I do think that tabular figures have to align across all weights. If your main text is in bold (and I've seen this done in many different contexts), and you need to make a figure bolder, you have to go to black, and you can't have your figures jumping out of alignment when that happens.
  • Max PhillipsMax Phillips Posts: 427
    Sorry; I forgot the "what do you do when…" part of your question. For what it's worth, what I've tried to do is, first of all, to try to set the width of the lightest tab figs so they don't make things too difficult when I get to the boldest weight. If I can't do this without making them too wide, I make them the width they need to be, then draw the blackest weight of the proportional figures the way I think they ought to look, then copy the blackest-weight proportional figures into the tabular figure slots, scale them to the same widths as the lighter tab figs, and then edit the outlines so that the blackest-weight tab figures look OK on their own terms in those widths. And I live with the fact that the blackest-weight tabular figures will look different from the blackest-weight proportional figures. It's not ideal, but it's not as if the proportional and tabular versions are going to be set right next to each other very often.

    I can't be as devil-may-care about this as James M and James T; I've designed too many annual reports...
  • Lata gataLata gata Posts: 758
    I set a lot of tab copy when I was an editorial AD and I never had a problem with bolder/wider figures. 99% of this stuff is set using tabs and that makes it all easy to align.
  • To me, it’s important that the emdash (U+2014) has the same width as two tab figures, because I need it in price lists where 12,99 stands below 12,—. I think it’s not that difficult to keep the width consistent until Bold. Beyond that, it’s probably not necessary, or is it? Like James, I can imagine situations where bold and regular figures appear in the same table, but not regular and ultra heavy. If a customer still required it (which I deem unlikely), I'd make one set of figures a stylistic set.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,110
    edited May 2012
    I usually try to equalize tab figure width across as many weights as possible, certainly the mid-range which might be used for body text—the classic example being financials in annual reports.

    But for thins and blacks, they can go their own way/width.

    Often I end up with bold tab figures that are quite squished and very different from their proportional equivalents.
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