Numerals in font family names

Hey all,

I've been helping a friend/colleague with some design and technical issues on a new typeface for a client. I just heard today (with the final font due tomorrow) that the final font family name is supposed to have a numeral in it, like “Glurbish 2000”.

I have a vague memory that there were once problems in at least some apps with having numerals in font names. Is this just poor memory on my part? It may be that it was just a problem with translating numerals in some wacky truncation scheme being used for Mac AFM files or something?

Thanks for any info anyone can offer on this point.


  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    FWIW, I use numerals regularly in the names of development iterations (to be clear: yes, in name fields of generated fonts) and I have not encountered any issues in Mac OS — Adobe CS6 apps, Quark 8, Pages, Word for Mac 2011 [other issues in Word, but not numeral related].

    I can imagine older problems with numerals in Postscript name, for example, but none recent that I have encountered.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,321
    edited July 2014
    I heard the same thing as you, Thomas. I even renamed a typeface of mine to remove the figures. I can't recall who said it though. I think this is why Univers in digital type had to change the naming scheme from what it was before digital. Univers 55 became Univers (normal)

    I really liked Frutiger's numbering system, too!
  • James MontalbanoJames Montalbano Posts: 968
    edited July 2014
    As long as there are no figure glyphs in the PSName, it should all be good.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,082
    We've been using numerals in font names off-and-on since the mid 1990s. We've always heard warnings not to, and we've yet to hit any major problems ... with one important caveat: don't start a font name with a number. This can indeed cause problems in some (mostly older) systems.

    Most recently, I used absolute px value numbers in the names of the Slabo fonts, and we've not heard of any issues.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 905
    For the Neue Haas Grotesk fonts Christian Schwartz opted to reinstate a Univers-esque numbered system — with numerals prefixing the style names, e.g., Neue Haas Grotesk Text Pro 75 Bold, Neue Haas Grotesk Text Pro 76 Bold Italic, etc.

    And the <namerecord nameID = 6> for those two are NHaasGroteskTXPro-75Bd and NHaasGroteskTXPro-76BdIt. Linotype did the final production on those. I don’t know if there have been any problems in the field, but these are out in the marketplace.

    Note, the numerals here are in the style name not the family name.
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,321
    Thanks, Kent!
  • Thomas: ‘I have a vague memory that there were once problems in at least some apps with having numerals in font names.

    I heard the rumors back in the good ol’ PS-fonts days too, and hence at DTL we never included numerals in the names of PS fonts meant for distribution. But as you know the specs did not mention this limitation. You're without no doubt more than anyone else here familiar with Font Naming Issues, Technical Note #5088, 12 April 1993 from Adobe Developer Support.

    excerpts: ‘From the font developer’s perspective, font naming begins with consideration of the basic family name of the typeface being implemented. This name is used as the value for the FamilyName keyword. The complete name must then be constructed, including elements denoting the style, weight, width, and character set. This complete name, which may include abbreviations but not spaces, is used for the keyword entry FullName. This must then be transformed into the FontName. Although this name may, theoretically, be as long as any PostScript language name — in practice, Adobe limits it to 29 characters […]. This constraint may necessitate abbreviation of portions of some font names.

    The FullName begins with a copy of the FamilyName and is completed by adding style attributes — generally in this sequence: weight, width, slope, optical size (an example of optical size might be 10point or Display), and special purpose attributes such as Expert (for the Adobe Expert character set fonts).

    As with any PostScript language name, a valid FontName must not contain spaces, and may only use characters from the standard ASCII character set. If abbreviations are necessary to meet the 29 character limit, the abbreviations should be used for the entire family. […]
  • PabloImpallariPabloImpallari Posts: 544
    edited July 2014
    For File-name "Lobster 1.4.otf" / Family-Name "Lobster 1.4" I had only one report of a problem. Not that bad considering it was installed on millions of computers.

    The problem was not even related to use of the Numbers, but related to the use of the Dot in the "file-name" (not in the family-name).
    It only affected one particular FontManager, but not any other app. I can't remember which font manager it was. The user solved it by removing the Dot from the file-name, simply by renaming the file to "Lobster 14.otf".
  • Which is 10 times the amount of lobster for the same price!

  • I also use numbers in font names for internal version control and haven't experienced a problem. For sub-versions, I use a 'v' instead of a dot: FontName-1v4-FontStyle.otf
  • SiDanielsSiDaniels Posts: 277
    I think the dot in a font name will cause problems when the font name is referenced in code.

    The popularity of the "Code 2000" font suggests that numerals are not problematic.

    Cheers, Si
  • Jack JenningsJack Jennings Posts: 152
    edited July 2014
    I think the dot in a font name will cause problems when the font name is referenced in code.
    Perhaps, but probably only poorly written code, and that seems edge-edge case. Python standard lib handles it fine:
    import os
    # ('foobar.1.4', '.otf')
  • One of our bespoke typefaces for Channel 4 Television here in the UK contains, unsurprisingly a '4' in all family names. It has been used by a huge number of agencies over the past 10 years without issues, so I think generally using figures is ok.
  • Thomas PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 1,998
    Thanks, all!
  • Dave CrosslandDave Crossland Posts: 1,074
    I've seen issues with fonts with a number as the first char, since I thought it would be smart to prepend a timestamp string.
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