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Type Rules!: The Designer's Guide to Professional Typography, Third Edition by Ilene Strizver

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Chapter 10. FRACTIONS, SIGNS, SYMBOLS, AND DINGBATS

There are a number of other typographic elements not previously mentioned that you will need from time to time. Not surprisingly, they are often misunderstood, as well as improperly or tastelessly used.

FRACTIONS

Fractions are a fairly common element in typeset copy. Sometimes they appear with great regularity, such as in recipes and cookbooks, manuals, and other documentation; sometimes they appear sporadically, as in the occasional measurement, dimension, and quantity. But in either case, good typography calls for professional-looking fractions, which in most cases are diagonal fractions.

Prior to OpenType, setting good-looking diagonal fractions was a challenge, especially if you needed more than the standard ¼, ½, and ¾, which are available in some (but not all) Type 1 and TrueType fonts. But today's OpenType fonts not only contain a wider assortment of prebuilt fractions but often can create any fraction on-the-fly. Unfortunately, not every OpenType font is capable of this, as they vary greatly in their fraction-making capability.

Diagonal fractions (½, not 1/2) can be either prebuilt and part of the font or created on-the-fly by your software. The best way to view which prebuilt fractions are part of a font is to search for them via the glyph palette. Fractions built on-the-fly vary in appearance: they can look as good as the prebuilt variety–or not so good and with bad spacing, heavy fractions bars, and/or light numerals. Both ...

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