In typography, a term used to refer to numerals. The numbers 1 through 0 come in two versions: oldstyle figures (also known as old face) which are nonaligning or hanging figures, which means that some numerals have ascenders or descenders and may not line up perfectly with each other. The other variety is modern, or lining figures, which means that all the numerals are the same size, without ascenders or descenders and will all line up on a line.
The set of figures in common use throughout the world is called Arabic numerals, since ancient Arabic merchants and scholars first used them (although they originated in India). Another common system of enumeration, still in use today, are Roman numerals.
In text, numbers under 100 are usually spelled out, unless they relate to references. Numbers should always be spelled out at the beginning of a sentence.
In tabular copy, all figures must be the same width to allow for their lineup; this does not apply to dates, however. The numeral 1, because of its narrowness, looks ill-spaced with other figures. Some fonts have a fitted 1.See also Arabic Numerals and Roman Numerals.
The term figure is also used to refer to any line illustration or photograph used in publications, such as a graph, chart, exploded view, rendering, halftone, or any other illustration.