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Exploring OpenType Pro Fonts, Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, we looked at many useful features of OpenType fonts. Let’s complete our review of typographic gems by checking out the options for figures.

OpenType Numerals

One of OpenType’s many useful features is the ability to manage different styles of numerals within a single font. When you’re working with typefaces that offer both lining and oldstyle figures, each in both proportional and tabular spacing, this is a huge time-saver!

Default Figure Style

This is the default figure/numeric style of the current font. The default figure style in most OpenType fonts is tabular lining figures. You can change the numeral style that best suits your needs using the OpenType palette.


Proportional Oldstyle

This style adds elegance and sophistication to body text. The figures have varying height and widths, mixes well with body text, and doesn’t look stranded or too high with lowercase characters.


Proportional Lining

This style blends better with all cap settings and makes numeric data stand out from surrounding body text. The figures use full-height with varying widths.


Tabular Oldstyle

This style also adds elegance and sophistication to body text. The figures use varying height with fixed equal widths and mixes well with the lowercase characters. This option is recommended when you want the classic appearance of old-style figures, but you also need them to align in columns, as in an annual report.


Tabular Lining

The figures use fixed equal heights with fixed equal widths. This option is appropriate in situations where numbers need to line up from one line to the next, as in tables. Tabular lining and oldstyle figures are intended for use in tables, price lists, or anywhere that numerals must align vertically.


With so many features in one font, you can see why OpenType came to dominate over other font types. I hope this information is helpful and I encourage you to explore the extended character sets of your fonts. If you think I missed something, please let me know in the comments.

Masood Ahmad

Masood Ahmad

Masood Ahmad has been working on InDesign since v2.0 and mostly with the Middle East version. He started his career as a Linguistic Operator in 1996 and presently working as an Associate Service Delivery Manager at Express KCS, India. Client communication, understanding requirements, distribution of jobs and monitoring of service delivery are part of his daily schedule. He assists his team in their works and also tries to educate them the best possible and efficient way. He is more interested in giving trainings within and outside the company. With his trouble-shooting skills, he tries to deal with all sorts of work. Visit to see his articles or email him at
Masood Ahmad

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