Georgia text figures (old style figures)

Old style text figures (or lower case, non-lining numerals) have made a comeback in graphic design in recent years. Typesetters use old style figures mainly in book publishing because they are lower case and blend almost invisibly into text, but graphic designers have been largely ignorant of old style figures owing, in part, to the lack of affordable extended type families in the early years of desktop design. For decades now, most numerals in text have been “lining” or “modern” figures—essentially all caps.

Matthew Carter designed Georgia in 1996 for Microsoft’s Web Core Fonts program, and it’s now everywhere online. Why?—because it was included (wisely) in the system software for both Macs and PCs. Web designers prefer system fonts for live type (type which is still editable—not a static graphic) so that common default fonts (think Times and Arial) will not be substituted.

Georgia, a lovely, highly readable typeface has handsome old style figures, and since Georgia is now ubiquitous, it has renewed interest in non-lining text numerals. Thank you Matthew Carter, and (dare we say it?) thank you Microsoft.