[Pkg-fonts-devel] Bug#411308: dejavu: text jumps when only numbers change

Frans Pop elendil at planet.nl
Sun Feb 18 20:17:37 CET 2007

On Sunday 18 February 2007 19:33, you wrote:
> Any references to such rule? I think that his rule does not exist for
> variable-width fonts like DejaVu Sans. Also IIRC this was allready
> discussed in dejavu ML, and it is not going to change.

Googling on "width numbers font design" gave me the selection below.
Some of them are really worth reading :-)

Note also that the microsoft reference extends the "same width" rule to 
other characters that are often used in combination with numbers, like 
mathematical or currency symbols.

The reason I filed the BR is that currently the values are so close 
together that IMO it would take only very little effort make them
"tabular". Personally I feel that having tabular numbers makes a _lot_ 
more sense in a general purpose font targeted at use on computers than 
having proportional numbers.

Hope you'll reconsider the "wontfix" tag.


P.S. My father worked in advertising (copywriter, but also did layout 
work), so I do have a bit of a background in this area.

Proportional fonts
Each cell is just as wide as needed to form a well-rendered character. 
Some characters, like M and w, are quite wide, while others, like i and 
l, are very narrow. Usually, numbers in proportional fonts are all the 
same width. It is difficult to display columns of data using proportional 
fonts, because characters are not all the same width.

Traditional non-digital typefaces offered proportional, tabular, old style 
and/or lining numerals. In tabular numerals the advance width and in 
proportional numerals any good model figure, such as the figure zero, is 
commonly referred to as the 'figure width' and it is used for the widths 
of some monetary symbols. The Dollar, Pound Sterling, Lira, Vietnamese 
Dong and Euro should all be on the figure width. The monetary signs Cent, 
Colon, Cruzeiro, French Franc, Naira, Peseta, Rupee, Won, and New Shekel 
may require a unique advance width.

To be fair, the page above discusses two approaches to dealing with 
numbers (or figures): proportional or tabular.

The Number Spacing feature type specifies a choice for the appearance of 
digits. It is an exclusive feature type.
Currently defined selectors for this feature are:
Monospaced Numbers: Uniform width numbers, useful for displaying in 
columns. Sometimes known as "columnating" numbers. 
Proportional Numbers: Numbers whose widths vary.

Line 'Em Up!
There are still more variations. Traditionally, old-style figures have had 
varying widths, while modern figures have all had the same width. That's 
one reason modern figures are popular in our number-intensive society; if 
you type them in columns (think annual report), the numerals all line up. 
But there's no reason why old-style figures can't do this too; and modern 
figures, for that matter, don't necessarily have to be all the same 
width. (It's always a challenge to make the numeral 1 look the same width 
as the other numbers.) So some type designers now create "tabular 
old-style figures," which vary in height and shape but all have the same 
width, and "proportional lining figures," which are full-height but may 
vary a bit in width.

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