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Is there a name for a set of figures which fit into the x-height (or thereabouts) in a typeface?

Lining figures explicitly do not:

lining figures

While old-style figures have ascenders and descenders:

old-style figures

In the old-style figures, the 1, 2, 3, and 0 fit in the x-height. Is there a name for a set of figures which also contains the rest of the digits inside of the x-height?

If so, which typefaces include such figures?

If not, what is the best method for getting a reasonable representation of such figures?

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  • I don't think there's going to be many typefaces that include the numerals you want. There's uppercase and lowercase, but nothing 'in between'.
    – Vincent
    Apr 8, 2014 at 14:14
  • @beerbajay: they don't usually get scaled down when "small caps" is "simulated" by scaling (as opposed to the old-style samples you provided). If you want the numbers smaller, you can scale the numbers separately: the small caps scaling is usually a document preference for DTP software and you can start with that percentage. In indesign, you can use a GREP style within a paragraph style to set all numbers smaller on a nearly automated basis. Adobe Garamond has a small-caps font as part of the set.
    – horatio
    Apr 8, 2014 at 14:20
  • Okay, so my only option is scaling down the lining figures "by hand"/grep? Won't the figures have a sort of "off" weight in that case?
    – beerbajay
    Apr 8, 2014 at 21:53

1 Answer 1

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There is no formal name for x-height numerals. In some OpenType fonts there are denominator numerals, normally used for fractions. I recall noticing one -- don't recall off-hand -- where these were close to the x-height of the typeface, but that's very unusual.

If you need lining figures at small cap height, reduce the size of the numerals and increase the weight to match the text. For example, 12 pt Minion Regular text and 8.5 pt Minion Semibold lining figures are a very close match.

enter image description here

Keep in mind, though, that old-style figures are designed to match well with lowercase and small caps. If you change a set of lining figures to OpenType "All Small Caps" in fonts that support it, they will change to old-style, proportional or tabular according to whether the lining figures were proportional or tabluar. Unless you have a very compelling reason to break that convention, it's best not to.

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