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This isn't different for difference's sake.

1. These are often termed old-style numerals. Nothing new under the sun here. If anything, all fixed height numerals are the newer invention. (conjecture, feel free to research this and refute, but I'd bet it's the case)

2. Research into how we read whole words indicates that letter height and the profile of entire words is critical to faster reading. SAME HEIGHT WORDS slow us down. The changes in word outline can help us along. 2009 2oo9. A poor example given that I'm simulating old-style numerals, but you get the idea. In blocks of text, not in tabular formatting, the changes in the numeral heights can help carry the eye along.

Your second point appears to be a weirdly pervasive myth. Excellent article at http://www.microsoft.com/typography/ctfonts/WordRecognition....

Key takeaway (here): Yes, tons of research shows that people read lowercased words faster than they read uppercased words. It also shows that the difference disappears with practice -- turns out lowercase is more common 'in the wild'.

Well, not so much a myth as research and theory that has since been refuted. Good link.

"If anything, all fixed height numerals are the newer invention"

I doubt it, given that all-uppercase is the older style. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_case#History seems to agree:

"Originally alphabets were written entirely in capital letters, spaced between well-defined upper and lower bounds"

But feel free to research and refute.

Roman numerals were upper case, but arab numerals were introduced in latin after lower case letters had evoved.

I don't think there is a direct correlation between letter case and old-style vs lining numerals. Most examples of early hand written numerals seem to be variable height, but regardless I'm more concerned with actual type, not hand lettering.

As usual, Wikipedia has a good into article about this, if you know where to look:


I know that this numeric style is old, I'm used to seeing it in older texts. But it's one of the (many) things that was lost in the web's super-simplified typography, and I personally don't want it back. I just think it looks bad and is hard to read.

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