Mathematical symbols contrasted or not?
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Igor Petrovic
Posts: 273
I work on a highcontrast sansserif typeface, but decided to keep basic math operators monoline (+,=,> etc.) But now I don't know how to approach additional math operators and symbols like product, lozenge, delta, ohm, pi, integral, increment, radical, infinite etc. Some of them are basically Greek letters (which implies contrast). Looking at the examples, seems there is no clear convention.
What's your opinion. Maybe apply contrast only on symbols originated from Greek letters and not on the rest, or no contrast at all for all math symbols? Thanks.
What's your opinion. Maybe apply contrast only on symbols originated from Greek letters and not on the rest, or no contrast at all for all math symbols? Thanks.
1
Comments

Whatever looks correct for the font.I had the same dilemma and I ended up just doing the basic math symbols (+=<>±×÷) with no contrast but everything else followed the style of the font. It didn't cause too much of a problem.On other occasions I have made even the basic symbols follow the style of the font. You must judge what looks correct.Doing the basic symbols with a style that the user is not expecting can detract from the legibility but doing them in the style of the font can cause them to look 'out of place'.3

Have a look at the standard Computer Modern fonts from LaTeX. Glyphs like /sum /product /bracketleft /braceleft /squareroot /integral are contrasted. Glyphs like /plus /equal /subset /exists /forall should be monostroke or low contrasted.5

@Paul Miller @Linus Romer Got it, thanks for the help! At this point my inclination is to keep these additional contrasted.0

The eye is the final arbiter. Mathematical operators are another tribe altogether, and it has different smaller tribes within it, which like to travel between Design and Math country. As far as I remember from my time at the Technical Univercity, there are things like the Aleph and specific symbols for sets that mean something completely different if they are written out in Fraktur or with one stem thickened out.2

Another thing to keep in mind is that unless your face is a very traditional text face, nobody is going to be setting calculus in it. The lozenge, particularly, is only used in modal logic and axiomatic set theory. So, with a display face, it can be better to anticipate those whimsical souls who would consider using some of these glyphs as ornaments, and, as long as they are still recognizable, make them good ornaments.
3 
I don’t know about axiomatic set theory, but modal logic uses 2B26 (white medium diamond) or possibly 25C7 (white diamond). The lozenge would look strange here.1
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