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I am trying to use the font "Microsoft Sans Serif" in an application where numbers are of high importance, and am facing one single issue:

Using the development tool's default font size, the comma and the period are hardly distinguishable.

Below is a heavily zoomed screenshot using font size 8 (height 11).

comma v.s. period

This font is the only one that I know of that is compatible with MS Sans Serif in terms of average character width, and is the main reason why I cannot choose some other font.

I even tried editing the font using various software, just to extend the comma a little, but the exported font either lost in rendering quality (although hinting was kept intact), or even offset by 1px vertically.

What are my options at this point? Is there anything at all that I can do regarding this matter?

2 Answers 2

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You could:

  • Use another font (but you won't do that - I don't really understand your explanation).
  • Edit the font (but it messes up the font hinting - could probably be fixed somehow).
  • Make the font size 1-3 points larger and see if the difference between the comma and period increases.
  • Make the commas larger.
  • Scale the commas vertically.
  • Use another font for the commas only.
  • See if there is another character in the font that resembles a comma, but is 1-2 pixels taller.
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  • "but it messes up the font hinting" - this is precisely what is happening.
    – Khorkhe
    Mar 29 at 4:16
  • all the other options are not exactly valid: when you use a font in an application, you have constraints, e.g. an edit box where the user types, I cannot go and find all commas and increase their font in particular, nor resize or use another font for commas.
    – Khorkhe
    Mar 29 at 4:18
  • Well the user don't actually type the commas do they? Anyway, yes all the solutions, besides the obvious which is to change the font or font size, are too complicated. But then what kind of answer were you hoping for?
    – Wolff
    Mar 29 at 6:50
  • Maybe a recommendation that would trigger an "aha" moment about something I may have overlooked as a non-designer
    – Khorkhe
    Mar 29 at 22:49
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    So it seems that your only options are either to live with it or to dive deep into understanding what goes wrong with the font hinting when you edit the font. I don't think that it's legal to distribute an edited version of the font though, but that's an entirely other matter.
    – Wolff
    Mar 31 at 10:22
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There is an inherent understanding of commas when used in numerical formats.

Especially if decimals are always 2 digits.

In other words, if all the numbers end in a decimal then 2-digits, you probably don't need to be overly concerned with the comma display.

Users will understand that anything prior to the decimal point is a comma. After all numbers containing 2 decimal points aren't very common - and if referring to financials, there's no such thing as 2 decimal points. Confusion would only occur if you are referencing tenths of a penny or less (meaning more than 2 digits after the decimal).

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  • Yeah, this. If all numbers have two decimal places and are ranged right, you're good. Might be more of a problem if you some numbers have more.
    – Copilot
    Mar 29 at 21:20
  • Yup, can be between 0 and 4 decimal digits
    – Khorkhe
    Mar 29 at 22:50

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