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Alex Visi
Posts: **173**

Hi everybody!

I was wondering to hear any thoughts on aligning math symbols to the middle of figure vs x-height, what makes more sense? Or other solutions like in-between positioning or contextual alternatives? Of course, math symbols are mostly meant for figures, but they are used with lowercase letters too. Any thoughts?

I was wondering to hear any thoughts on aligning math symbols to the middle of figure vs x-height, what makes more sense? Or other solutions like in-between positioning or contextual alternatives? Of course, math symbols are mostly meant for figures, but they are used with lowercase letters too. Any thoughts?

0

## Comments

2,409The convention in most fonts is for the math symbols to be aligned to the lowercase letters, typically with the + sign vertically extending or nearly extending from baseline to x-height.

In mathematical fonts, the symbols may be both larger and higher, although the bottom of the + sign will still be somewhere close to the baseline.

The other question often asked about math symbols is whether they should be slanted in italic fonts. My preference is always no, but some designers do this, and the argument can be made that it is appropriate for some uses, e.g. in packaging design, where consistency of visual style overrides norms. In mathematical typesetting, arithmetical and other non-alphanumeric symbols are never italicised.

Spacing of upright math symbols relative to italic numerals can be tricky. They often need to be shifted slightly to the right to sit visually centred between the numerals, but the amount they need to be shifted can vary slightly depending on the symbol.

1,264Also, is anyone making variants of math symbols for OpenType figure alternatives (proportional, oldstyle, etc.)? I can see an argument for a higher "lining plus-sign" than "oldstyle plus-sign," even conceding the point above that it's not always figures that are added. (I've certainly made oldstyle/lining distinctions in currency symbols and /percent, but I don't think I've ever done it with math operators.)

987x+3ywill look right.m- 1) seems to be in somewhat of an in-between position, but favoring the lower-case letter, and in the third example, the + signs seem to be aligned with the middle of the digit.6751,867This means the math symbols end up vertically aligned with the x-height, not the lining-figure/cap height.

I don’t even centre-align “all caps” marks, but keep them a little lower. For some reason, centre-alignment just doesn’t look right to me, in all-cap settings.

I slant the italic math symbols, unless I am feeling particularly lazy.

173But the hyphen is being used as the hyphen more often anyway, so is butchering it worth it?

1,2649052,4091,4061,264