Small Capital Figures?

Hello type community! 

First time poster here, although I've been a reader of the forums over the years. Thank you to the moderators/creators for making this site and keeping it going!

Question: do you make specialized numbers for small caps or just use regular cap height ones? I typically do but I'm not sure if it's something that customers actually want or just one of those things I think they want. Right now I have lining figures, old-style figures, small figures (superior/inferior for fractions and math) so there are plenty of options but nothing that perfectly aligns with the sc height. 

Comments

  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,424
    I have done it both ways and don't find a sales difference.  It may be used more for a technical publication or textbook but I have no data.
  • I did SC figures in the framework of a comprehensive type project because I think there is some logic about it. But I have no user responses at hand which would back the decision.
  • André SimardAndré Simard Posts: 170
    edited November 3
    To be honest, I want all those numbers in the typeface I buy. To my point of view, creating those specialized numbers are really useful for few reasons. In body text, used in a novel or historical book for instance, the unaligned/proportional numbers have a better integration in the page without taking visually not too much room. However the aligned (tabular) numbers will be perfect in financials statements which will be easier to read by the readers. As a graphic designer using numbers for more than 40 years, I always looked a typeface family with all those figures (lining figures, old-style figures, small figures (superior/inferior for fractions and math). The reason why is to have opportunity to get the good numbers for the good usage. I know that I would be able to create small caps numbers from a bigger weight than the one I use in my design, but it is really easier to have the right style in each weight.
    To your variety of numbers you drawn, I will add the proportional numbers to use in long text. 
    Actually, as I am a typefaces designer I always include numbers for both tabular and proportional in my typefaces families.
    I have to admit it's a huge amount of work, however with some tools included in the  drawing typeface program I use, that task is not a big deal.
    Hope my point of view will be helpful.
  • Question: do you make specialized numbers for small caps or just use regular cap height ones?
    Regular cap height figures look terrible with small caps. Either small cap figures or oldstyle figures are more appropriate. Whether it is necessary to include separate OsF/SC figures is a design decision, but I consider it a problem if a font with small caps contains only cap-height figures.
  • I find the cap figures in the 1st line optically too big and too heavy.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,924
    edited November 3
    The stroke widths are comparable. Certainly not too big, if anything they are too narrow. That is the problem in mixing lining figures with all caps, their proportions look normal for figures, but the effect is “condensed” (in characters-per-pica) compared with letters. Compare “SO” with “80”. Perhaps I could have increased the sidebearings. 

    Therefore, for old style typefaces, with their many broad letter forms, roman numerals are of course most appropriate in an all cap setting! 

    The best scenario for mixing numerals with all caps is, in my experience, in a condensed or semi-condensed type style.
  • Capital figures are a relatively new invention, for understandable reasons. But they have never existed in the past 500 years – because they are not neccessary. If one aims to let arabic numerals look like roman capitals – I’m not surprised that it doesn’t work. At least not in a classical text face. I may get convinced by a good example, but I have not yet seen any. And, as a type designer, I have trouble enough to execute
    • lining f.s (prop./tab.)
    • medieval . f.s (prop./tab.)
    • sc f.s (prop./tab.)
    • medi f.s (prop./tab.; only for uncial sets)
    • fraction f.s
    • sup/sub f.s

    I find also the paranthesis look too heavy.



  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,924
    edited November 3
    At least not in a classical text face. 
    It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that the emergence of lining figures coincided with that of the didone style, with its hairlines and narrow capitals which minimized the differences in weight and proportion between letters and figures. Even so, the tacit standard that emerged was the “three-quarter height” figure, because figures might otherwise be too dominant in mixed case text. But would that have been quite so necessary in German, with its relative profusion of “titlecase” capitals in mixed case?
    This example from the 1860s in the state of New York.


  • a very good example! The figure 1 is slightly smaller than h and H, its stem is bolder than that of h but lighter than that of H. – Those figures are perfectly balanced, even with the small capitals.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,924
    edited November 4
    Here’s my restoration of that Scotch Modern, to which I added the anachronisms of cap-height lining figures (and oldstyle figures). Even with the better balance between caps and figures in this style than in the oldstyle, the cap-height figures are still a little too strong/condensed, especially when there are eight of them in a row. However, while not perfect, I think that it is better than threequarter-height figures, which look like a point-size error. 


  • One of the earlier instances of small cap lining figures was the original FF Quadraat by Fred Smeijers back in the early 90s, one of my favorite designs. Those figures are now accessible in the C2SC feature in his expanded and reworked Quadraat.
  • Question: do you make specialized numbers for small caps or just use regular cap height ones?
    Regular cap height figures look terrible with small caps. Either small cap figures or oldstyle figures are more appropriate. Whether it is necessary to include separate OsF/SC figures is a design decision, but I consider it a problem if a font with small caps contains only cap-height figures.
    My issue is that my x-height is not very tall so I made two variations of small caps, one set at x-height and one that is a bit taller which works much better when set with the capitals. The shorter set are now a Stylistic alternate. The issue is I had was my old-style figures then didn't line up correctly with the main small caps. I think I'll go ahead and make the small cap figures. 

    I also typically include tabular lining and proportional lining. It's funny to see the number category so immense for only 10 glyphs, and I've never known whether it's worth it or not. 

    Thanks everyone for your input!!
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,483
    Canadians and other folk living in countries that use alphanumeric postal codes may particularly appreciate having smallcap numerals.
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