Glyph of the Week

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visible shape: 3x3 px / total advance width: 4px

Glyph: 6 Name: six Unicode: 0036

Digit Six

2017-09-04 Week 36/2017 posted by RFI

Let's talk about details. It's one of the more unexpected symmetry breaks in Minima that the 6 looks nothing like a rotated 9, more like a rotated 7. Why is that?

Within the 3 × 3 pixels for digits, there is no room for both a loop and an arc in a 6 or 9. For the 9, the best solution is to truncate the arc, not letting it curve back around the loop. While this is not the most common form, similar representations of a 9 with a straight stem can be found in many handwriting styles and in some older formal typography such as OCR-A.

[1996. OCR-A, Handwriting, Minima. Type samples.]

In OCR-A, the 6 is uncurved and upright as well, which, however, makes it hard to distinguish from a lowercase b. Furthermore, an upright 6 would look a bit slow or restrained in handwriting, whereas an upright 9 is fast, due to the direction of writing. It is this difference in fast writing that Minima picks up and emphasizes, with focus on a heavily slanted upper portion for the 6.

And that part is common to 6 and 9: Both their glyphs focus on the beginning of the stroke, which happens to be in the upper half for all digits. What follows below is relegated to a secondary role of balance management – like in fast handwriting.

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