Setting fractions

show more Setting fractions provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the InDesign Typography (2012) show less
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Setting fractions

Working with fractions can be tricky. We have several approaches that we can take. Firstly, if we're lucky enough to just be concerned with simple fractions, like half, three-quarters, one-quarter, then all we need to do is change the glyph. These glyphs are part of our common character set. So, for example, I can highlight the current state of this fraction, just 1/2, for half, come to my Glyphs panel, and then scroll down until I find that fraction. Now, if I'm having a hard time finding it, I might want to tear off my Glyphs panel so I can make it bigger. And there it is right there.

And double-click to insert that at the point of my cursor, and then I can do the same with the others, put that back. If, however, we are concerned with more esoteric fractions, like 5/16ths, or 3/16ths, then we need to work a little bit harder. And we have three different approaches. Firstly, the Manual approach, very fiddly. We need to select the numerator, make it Superscript, the denominator, make it Subscript. You may also need to adjust the position of the Subscript, and you can do that in Advanced Type Preferences. I have the position set to 0.

This is an application-wide setting, so that could adversely affect the position of some other Subscript in your documents. So just beware of that one. Then we need to highlight the slash and replace that with a real fraction bar, and the keyboard shortcut for that is Option+Shift+1. So it's going to look like that. You may also find the need to do a little bit kerning of the space between the fraction bar and the numbers. Then when you have one the way that you wanted, you can highlight that, copy it, replace the other one, and just switch out the numbers as appropriate.

Now, we wouldn't want to be doing that too often, that's a very long-winded way of doing things. So we could alternatively use a Fraction Script. I'm using one called Proper Fraction, it's by Dan Rodney. Here's Dan's web site, from where you can download the Pro version or the free version for which he asks a small contribution. I'm using the free version, and it's already installed. So I am going to come to my Scripts panel where we can apply it in two different way, either by horizontally and vertically scaling the characters, or by changing the point size of the characters. The difference is very subtle.

I will apply the first option to the first fraction, and the second to the second. Just so we can see if we can discern any difference, and not really. So, either of those approaches are obviously a lot quicker than doing this manually. Incidentally, slightly off-topic, but here we have Xs rather than multiplication sign. So if we actually wanted multiplication sign, come to the Glyphs panel, switch this to be viewing just Math Symbols where we have a Multiplication Sign.

So I will just double-click to insert that, and then I could highlight that, copy it, and paste that over the other instances. Okay. Final option, and one that is preferable I think if you're working with an OpenType font. So if you have an OpenType Pro font, in this case Minion Pro, it will hopefully have an extended character set as Minion Pro does, which includes fractions. So, all I need to do is highlight those numbers, come up to my OpenType Options and choose Fractions.

So obviously, the OpenType approach is a lot quicker. It's also aesthetically preferable because we are working with separately drawn distinct fraction characters rather than scaled-down versions of the full-size numerals.

Setting fractions
Video duration: 3m 56s 9h 7m Intermediate Updated Nov 12, 2014


Setting fractions provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the InDesign Typography (2012)

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