Old style figure

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Above: word in capitals and lining figures ,
below: word with lowercase letters and old style figures
(each with baseline ; font: Linux Libertine )
Old style figures in Hoefler Text :
the figures 3, 4, 5, 7, 9 with descender , the figures 6 and 8 with ascender

Old style figures or Minuskelziffern have - unlike Majuskel- or lining figures  - upper and descenders as lowercase letters and variable, adapted to the character shape Dickten . They therefore fit harmoniously into the body of the text . The digits 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9 usually have descenders, while 6 and 8 usually have ascenders and 0, 1 and 2 are at the x-height, i.e. are the size of lowercase letters.

Old style figures were used in the 12th century when the Arabic numerals , the Roman began to peel off. Uppercase digits were initially only used in tables ( tabular digits ) because their uniform width makes them more suitable when numerical values ​​are to be right-aligned below one another. Since the 19th century, uppercase numbers have also become common in paragraph text . Old-style figures are still used today for sophisticated typesetting .

In English - and thus sometimes also in the German-speaking area - old-style figures are also referred to as non-aligning , text figures or old-style numerals .


  • Robert Bringhurst: The Elements of Typographic Style . Hartley & Marks, Point Roberts, Vancouver 2005, ISBN 978-0-88179-206-5 (English) .
  • Friedrich Forssman, Ralf de Jong: Detailed typography . Verlag Hermann Schmidt, Mainz 2004, ISBN 978-3-87439-642-4 .

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