Death to typewriters

Part IV.
Typography is more than just letters

Marcin Wichary
2 min readFeb 9, 2015

Typography is also digits. Here are some examples of what we’re doing to make numbers feel like first-class… excuse me, 1st-class citizens:

Old-style numerals. Numbers in Medium stories are most often meant to blend together with text. We’re not a spreadsheet. Therefore, for text, we use old-style numerals (numbers that pretend to be lowercase letters) — but for headlines, we use the usual lining ones (numbers that pretend to be uppercase letters).

Tabular figures. This is the exception to the above. In our stats screen, we make sure the digits look like uppercase letters… and occupy the same width so that the numbers align perfectly. We can’t wait for an OpenType feature supporting this to be understood by more browsers — in the interim, we achieve that with a simple JavaScript/CSS hack.

Thousand separators. In all the numbers in our user interface, we separate groups of three digits with commas so that they are easier to parse. (Here’s an internal document that led to this change.)