I've found that for a phone number that begins 508-886-60xx, it is a common occurrence to misread it as 508-888-60xx, therefore, I'm wondering if there are any fonts we could use in written material to make the likelihood of misreading this be reduced? In particular, I was thinking that perhaps a font that takes the numeral 6 and lowers it, like a descender, might be a good one to help distinguish it from 8. For example, the Quercus font has some numerals raised and others lowered:

Quercus numerals

But since the 8 and 6 are both raised, that would not help in the case of the phone number I'm working with.

Has there been any research done in reading accuracy of phone numbers, or even just numbers, with various fonts, or styles of fonts, and if so, what fonts, or characteristics were found to be read more accurately?

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    These are referred to as lower-case numbers used in text as opposed to tabular ones that align (normally used in charts, graphs, and tables.)
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 8, 2016 at 21:06
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    You might want to read this article on Bell Centennial; it was designed especially for use in phone books, so the legibility of numbers was of paramount concern.
    – Dre
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 13:59
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    These are also called "old style figures", "text figures", and a few other names. See Wikipedia article text figures. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:08
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    @Stan, I think tabular figures means that characters are fixed width (as opposed to proportional). I believe the opposite of "old style figures" would actually be "lining figures". I'm pretty sure that's the terminology InDesign uses. Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:10
  • @Scribblemacher Yes. A fine point is that tabular figures "are" mono width set so that they can align into columns without letterspacing as opposed to "mean" fixed-width, per se.
    – Stan
    Commented Jun 9, 2016 at 18:38

2 Answers 2


I've found that in general most sans-serif fonts are more legible than serif fonts when reading numbers. Serif fonts are more decorative and have varying line weights, so it's easier for characters to blend together and be harder to distinguish.


You have inherited a problematic situation.
Consider that the separators also help with correct reading of the numerals.

Now, have a look at the different kinds of separators.

508 886 60XX (spaces only)

508.886.60XX (points on baseline or centred)

508-886-60XX (hyphens)

508–886–60XX (en-dashes)

(508) 886-60XX (traditional separators)

Airing-out the characters helps with the "reading" of the numerals, too. Do what you can to pull apart the number clusters to avoid misreading them.

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