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Author Topic: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?  (Read 3397 times)

ginkgo100

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I'm nearing completion of a book project. One page has a unique element in that there is text consisting of a list of numbers, which for consistency must be set in the same font-family as the equivalent sections of other pages. I want to use tabular figures for this. I'm using the Kingsbridge family for this, and have discovered that its default numerals are all lining (good) and proportonal (bad). I tried downloading the style/weight I want for this page in OTF format (all the rest of my Kingsbridge fonts are TTF) because myfonts.com boasted that it includes tabular figures, but now I can't figure out how to actually find or use the tabular figures. I couldn't find alternate numerals at all in Story Editor > Insert Glyph > Enhanced Palette. I'm frustrated enough at this point that I would just modify it in FontForge myself, but the license for Kingsbridge doesn't allow this.

ginkgo100

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #1 on: August 01, 2016, 01:04:49 am »
Okay, so if anyone is intersted, I kludged a work-around that was adequate for this one section, though I'd hate to try to implement it for an entire document. I set up a paragraph style with center-aligned tab stops every x points (I settled on 5.2 after much experimenting). I had to reduce the space width by 20% to force the characters to sit that close together – otherwise they kept overflowing to the next tab stop at only 5.2 pt apart. Without reducing the space width, the tab stops had to be too far apart for a good result. Then I edited my text (in Windows Notepad, because I don't like to use the story editor if I don't have to) to place a tab before every character. If it were a really big block of text, I'd have used some online text tool like textmechanic.com to automate this, but it was easier to just do it manually for this small section.* I think the result looks reasonably good even if it is a kludge and I had to put weird formatting (tabs) into the text to make it work. I'm attaching crops of screenshots from "before" (in the normal font with proportional figures) and "after" (my simulation of tabular figures). The font, if you're curious, is Kingsbridge Semicondensed Book. If anyone knows a better (or another) way, please share!


*Actually, I am lying here. It just didn't cross my mind to use a tool to do this until it was done.

GarryP

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #2 on: August 01, 2016, 03:09:42 pm »
That's a nice solution ginkgo100.

I've never had the need to do what you need to do but I can see where having proportional fonts would make it awkward.

One other possible solution I thought might work would be to use a multi-column text frame but in a little experiment I couldn't get the columns close enough to each other to make it look nice. Also, the text has to be split between columns which makes editing a real pain. (The attached screen grab shows the minimum distance between digits I could get using this technique.)

Using LaTeX in a render frame might be a better solution but I haven't checked as it's a big installation just for this.

ginkgo100

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #3 on: August 01, 2016, 06:51:43 pm »
I thought about doing something like that, only using separate text frames (regularly spaced) rather than columns in a single frame, but rearranging the text to make it work would have been much more challenging. I'd need to take the first digit of each number and put them in the first frame or column, the second digit of each number for the second frame/column, etc. The actal layout already consists of multiple columns so that would make things even more mind-spinning. Errors are likely.

This document, by the way, is a book of word searches – this particular page has a variation that uses numbers instead of words, hence the need for a list. When I was testing it on a printed copy, I found that it was much harder to keep the numbers straight to solve the word search when the list was in a proportional font. Hence this late attempt to get tabular figures. If it were early in the project I might switch to a different font, but I've already done tons of typography with Kingsbridge and I'm not willing to redo it all!

GarryP

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2016, 11:47:39 am »
Yeah, using multiple frames/columns for this kind of thing is a desperate act. I only mentioned it in case someone else reading this found it useful for something else. As far as Scribus goes, as it is at the moment, I think your solution is the best you can hope for even though it's not ideal.

I can understand why you don't want to have to go back and change fonts at this stage, although Styles are very useful for that kind of thing.

There are some typefaces (I can't name one off the top of my head) that are designed to have proportional and non-proportional variants. It might be worth looking for some for next time.

For something like Word Searches I'd be very tempted to use something like LibreOffice Calc for the grids. A spreadsheet is just a grid after all. It means using two applications and you don't have all of the formatting control in Calc that you do in Scribus but I think it would be much quicker if your requirements aren't too complex. (You would also have the same problem with transcription errors but you'd have that anyway if you're designing the puzzles on paper first.)

P.S. For anyone else reading this: If your requirements for creating word searches are simple then there are lots of online/installable word search generators that will probably be much easier to use than trying to do them in Scribus. Here's one example: http://www.crauswords.com/index.html And you always have the option of importing the finished PDF - or a cropped version of it - into an image frame if you want to add your own extras in Scribus.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2016, 11:58:32 am by GarryP »

ginkgo100

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2016, 11:24:47 pm »
I can understand why you don't want to have to go back and change fonts at this stage, although Styles are very useful for that kind of thing.

Yes, yes they are, which is why I have used them for everything in this document! ;) I think I must have at least 40 paragraph and character styles in use, as well as two or three line styles. But to make things fit in an attractive yet space-conserving way, there are places where I've adjusted tracking manually (using the Text tab of the Properties dialog, because the Story Editor is ... well, you know). And all that would be lost and have to be redone where necessary if I changed the font for the word list styles.

I know OTF fonts aren't fully supported by Scribus, but in another document I was able to manually insert alternate glyphs in an OTF font via the character palette. But I couldn't find tabular characters that are supposedly present in this particular font's OTF version, or any other clue on how to manually insert them. Don't know what the story is on this.


There are some typefaces (I can't name one off the top of my head) that are designed to have proportional and non-proportional variants. It might be worth looking for some for next time.

The Kingsbridge OTF version supposedly has this. I just can't figure out how to make it work (see above). I've been using the Kingsbridge TTF versions. It didn't cross my mind to find a font with both types of figures when I was choosing fonts, months ago.

For something like Word Searches I'd be very tempted to use something like LibreOffice Calc for the grids. A spreadsheet is just a grid after all. It means using two applications and you don't have all of the formatting control in Calc that you do in Scribus but I think it would be much quicker if your requirements aren't too complex. (You would also have the same problem with transcription errors but you'd have that anyway if you're designing the puzzles on paper first.)

P.S. For anyone else reading this: If your requirements for creating word searches are simple then there are lots of online/installable word search generators that will probably be much easier to use than trying to do them in Scribus. Here's one example: http://www.crauswords.com/index.html And you always have the option of importing the finished PDF - or a cropped version of it - into an image frame if you want to add your own extras in Scribus.

Well, actually I use Crossword Compiler (a nice piece of software I purchased some years ago) to create the word search grids. I can export these in many formats, including image files, but I'm going with plain text. The grids are in a monospace font (actually one of my own creation via FontForge) and there aren't any problems there. My problem is with the word lists that go with the word searches, specifically with the list for the one puzzle that uses numerals instead of letters. When I was testing it out, I found my eyes crossing trying to keep track of the numbers, and I think a monospaced (tabular) list of numbers would be much easier to use.

I would never recommend Scribus or even a word processor to GENERATE word searches – what a headache that would be! If you can't use an application (online or on your computer) for it, then your best bet would probably be to just use a no-frills text editor like Notepad, or maybe (as you suggested) a spreadsheet. No, I'm using Scribus only to format the book that will contain all these word searches. Which hopefully will be available on Amazon in the very near future. :D

GarryP

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #6 on: August 05, 2016, 02:52:24 pm »
I might have misunderstood but I can't remember ever seeing a font file with both proportional and monospaced glyphs in it.

What I was suggesting is when someone has created a typeface that has both proportional and monospaced variants - e.g. different font files. "DejaVu Sans" is an example that I've just remembered. (A quick look at Kingsbridge on dafont.com shows 56 variants but no monospaced ones.) You seem to know way more than me about this so just ignore me if I'm talking rubbish!

Maybe someone reading this can suggest a very similar monospcaed font that you can use - and it sounds like you only need the numbers to look the same - but you might not get a reply in time for your production schedule. (Although you might be able to use it next time.)

I'm so glad you're not using Scribus for generating the grids. That would be maddening.

Good luck for when your book is published. Have you thought about getting it up on the Wiki "Success Stories" page?

a.l.e

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #7 on: August 05, 2016, 04:45:37 pm »
well, if the font is open source (or if you have the rights to edit it), you can rename a copy of it and make the characters that are relevant to you monospace.

Nermander

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2016, 10:30:37 pm »
I might have misunderstood but I can't remember ever seeing a font file with both proportional and monospaced glyphs in it.

A bit down on this page
https://www.fonts.com/content/learning/fontology/level-3/numbers/oldstyle-figures

it states:
Quote
OpenType’s capacity to accommodate thousands of characters in a given font, has made oldstyle figures sometimes with both tabular and proportional spacing formats much more common.

So for numbers there are some fonts containing both.

Here's a page describing how you can access different formats in InDesign. Note that the example here has 4 different number styles: Tabular lining, Proportional Oldstyle, Proportional Lining and Tabular Oldstyle.
https://www.typotheque.com/fonts/choosing_numerals


a.l.e

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #9 on: August 06, 2016, 12:00:35 am »
And this is the way it looks in Scribus:

... well, it's in the CTL branch by HOST and will probably be in the next development release 1.5.3...

GarryP

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Re: Replacing proportional figures with tabular figures in OTF font?
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2016, 04:53:16 pm »
Interesting... I'll have to brush up on my font knowledge. Thanks for the info'.

It will be good to see the different formats being supported in Scribus too.