In the comments of this post, I brought up that I can't stand how numbers are displayed. @embedded.kyle pointed out that it's called Text Figures or Oldstyle Figures. And @Olin Lathrop explained the issue:

What bothers me most is how digits look. Some have decenders or are shown lower contrary to convention and for no apparent reason. Digits: 0123456789. The way 3, 4, and 5 are lower can only be called "stupid". I can sortof see longer tails on 7 and 9, but the whole digit is lower. More stupidity. Actually the only ones that look right are 6 and 8. The remainder are either squashed or lowered for some unfathomable reason.

It seems like most people would like digits to be displayed normally. So can we change this?


Screenshot of the above quoted comment for those users without the Georgia font installed (secondary fonts like Times New Roman have lining numerals):

enter image description here

  • \$\begingroup\$ Although they may not please people, I think that the font has its own sense. If you look at numbers, they are kinda like lowercase letters, with the "heaviest" part in the middle and smaller glyphs up or down. I don't know who takes care of the design, but everything can be changed at will. \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    Nov 27, 2012 at 23:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ Ask any font designer why they made this or that design decision and I'm sure they will have a reason (or list of reasons) that makes sense to them. I went to a Typography Exhibit at MoMA once and they went into the psychology and sociology behind various fonts. I don't really understand why I prefer Oldstyle numbers in books but prefer Lining numbers on a screen. But I do. +1 \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2012 at 15:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ And the digits in your quote on Olin's comment are still appearing Oldstyle to me at the moment so I don't think it's been changed yet. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2012 at 15:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ Can you give a link to this discussion? \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Nov 28, 2012 at 15:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Kortuk First link in the post. Refers to the the comments of this Meta post: meta.electronics.stackexchange.com/questions/2509/… \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2012 at 16:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I was scrolled down just perfectly to miss the first line when I was reading it. Since that was exactly your first sentence a partial sentence did not tip me off! Sorry. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kortuk
    Nov 28, 2012 at 16:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @clabacchio: But there seems to be no consistant scheme to the digits we have now. 0, 1, and 2 are squashed, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9 lowered, and 6 and 8 normal. If all were one way at least you can make the case they were designed to a theme. What we have now is just a stupid looking mess. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 28, 2012 at 20:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ @embedded.kyle Thanks, they are not appearing old style to me, so I thought that maybe they changed it; however I had just installed a new linux OS so my other thought was that I just don't have that font installed. They still appear normal to me so that must be the problem. If you can, could you take a screenshot and add it to my post (I will when I have access to another computer.) Thanks! \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2012 at 14:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GarrettFogerlie Done. In the previous post, Ben Brocka lists the available fonts in order. You're probably missing Georgia and so reverting to Times New Roman. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2012 at 15:08
  • \$\begingroup\$ @embedded.kyle, thank you very much! \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2012 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OlinLathrop: for the font choice, you can blame the designer; but for the style of numbers, it's specified in the Georgia font, and as I thought is to match lowercase letters. (Found in Wikipedia right now) \$\endgroup\$
    – clabacchio
    Nov 29, 2012 at 17:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @clabacchio: Then it still doesn't make sense that 3 is different from 8, although the 3 is shown low and the 8 normal. \$\endgroup\$ Nov 29, 2012 at 21:20
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    \$\begingroup\$ The argument isn't about whether the font makes sense or not, but rather why it was chosen for this site. I'd perhaps pick that font if I wanted to put a label on my RL physical mailbox, but I would not use it in any mathematical/scientific context. \$\endgroup\$
    – Lundin
    Nov 30, 2012 at 15:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ So the three doesn't match to what you learned at primary school, but do you still write the way you were tought back then? Like there is no bad-hand-writing-police, there is also no bad-font-police. Apart from the fact that I don't think it is a bad font, on contrary. I think it is a perfectly good font. Things change, it is part of life. Better worry about things that do matter. \$\endgroup\$
    – jippie
    Dec 1, 2012 at 21:35
  • \$\begingroup\$ @jippie because it is harder to read, a bit aggravating and a lot (probably most) people don't like it. This is a community driven site and it is simple to change. It's not asking for the moon, and these types of issues are what Meta is for. I don't mind the font except for how digits are displayed. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 2, 2012 at 2:13

1 Answer 1


Font by itself is kind of nice for me (even numbers), if I was reading about that famous detective John Smith and what he is doing in front of house number 42 in the middle of the night. But for scientific oriented text is utterly s... stupid(just to be polite). When single digit is used, then it is somehow acceptable, but for longer strings like 0987654321 it is simply awful and extremely annoying. Every taste is different so probably won't be bad idea to be a choice in a user preferences. Still more technical font will be more appropriate for electronics. There are reason why technical fonts exist in first place and readability and unambiguity are among if not prime ones.


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