FatFonts: Combining the symbolic and visual aspects of numbers

Miguel Nacenta, Uta Hinrichs, Sheelagh Carpendale

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

29 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)


In this paper we explore numeric typeface design for visualization purposes. We introduce FatFonts, a technique for visualizing quantitative data that bridges the gap between numeric and visual representations. FatFonts are based on
Arabic numerals but, unlike regular numeric typefaces, the amount of ink (dark pixels) used for each digit is proportional to its quantitative value. This enables accurate reading of the numerical data while preserving an overall visual
context. We discuss the challenges of this approach that we identified through our design process and propose a set of design goals that include legibility, familiarity, readability, spatial precision, dynamic range, and resolution. We
contribute four FatFont typefaces that are derived from our exploration of the design space that these goals introduce.
Finally, we discuss three example scenarios that show how FatFonts can be used for visualization purposes as valuable representation alternatives.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the International Working Conference on Advanced Visual Interfaces
Place of PublicationNew York
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781450312875
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Typography
  • Information Visualization
  • Number Systems
  • Redundant Encoding
  • Scalar Fields
  • Visual Data Encoding
  • Scientific Visualization


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