# why do we have capital/lowercase letters but not capital/lowercase numbers?

120 views
0

why do we have capital/lowercase letters but not capital/lowercase numbers?

In: 3

What would be the purpose? Capital letters are used for particular reasons. There aren’t any reasons I could think of to justify the use of capital or lowercase numbers. We have commas to separate the thousands from the millions, we have periods to separate the decimal places, and we don’t have “sentences” of numbers that aren’t broken up by operators like the addition symbol.

Capital/lowercase are a way of *showing* distinctions in language/grammar. i is a letter, I is a word. ‘a mom’ is different from Mom. We use capital letters (in English) to distinguish proper nouns (England, France vs. apple and butthole) as well as the starts of sentences. Other languages can use capital letters differently. My whole point being that capital letters *have a meaning*, they aren’t random, they convey an additional piece of information.

Numbers simply don’t have a similar need. It’s not like having 1 apple vs 1 Europe needs to be conveyed in number writing. **HOWEVER** we do run into something similar in Math and Physics… but it’s complicated. For example, distinguishing between a scalar and vector values or signifying between real and imaginary numbers. There are established standards and traditions in writing these types of numbers that *you absolutely could compare to being upper / lower case numbers.* They are just kind of exotic to laypeople so it’s understandable you wouldn’t need them in daily life.

We do, technically, but it’s mostly a style thing it’s not really necessary. Sometimes you’ll see it done for ornamentation.

Typographers do sometimes refer to “[old style](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Text_figures)” numbers as being lower case and modern figures as upper case. Lower case digits have varying heights, with the 0, 1 and 2 being small and the other seven digits having ascenders and/or descenders making them taller. In this way the don’t stand out from normal prose on a page in the way more modern digits do due to their being generally larger and a more consistent size.

Quality fonts and typesetting software allows you to choose what kind of digits you want. Often there are four options: old style or modern (“lining”); and proportional or tabular (all digits being of equal width).

We do!

Here are capital numbers: I, II, III, IV, V.

Here are lowercase numbers: i, ii, iii, iv, v.

With Roman numerals/letters lowercase was originally used for everything. The uppercase font was created for use when carving stone monuments and stone buildings as lowercase is pretty much impossible to carve in stone.

Since no one has to carve arabic numerals on stone, there is no need for a different style of “lowercase” font. When we want lowercase we just use a different size version (subscript/superscript).