I am very fond of small caps, they can really freshen up a design and add some much needed hierarchy, but a great problem arises whenever I need to set numerals in small caps, because not a single one of the hundreds of typefaces I’ve taken a look at over the last few years have had a set of small cap numerals. This is especially frustrating since many of these fonts contain a set of small caps.
Small Caps are intended mostly for use in emphasizing something in running text when use of italic or bold is not appropriate or desirable. In the days of foundry metal, it would have been cost-prohibitive to produce numbers which matched the small cap size since they would add no value to most buyers.
In today’s world they can be produced fairly easy. Still, considering they may see only occasional use so have little practical value, most foundries will not spend the time producing them – even today, time is money. They would not bear much added value, especially because in those very occasional times they are needed they can be faked using modern desktop software.
I added small-cap numbers to some font but as Georgs said, not many places to use them. And I never liked mine.
In my fonts I design small-cap figures, but they are only triggered by the all-small-caps feature (caps-to-small-caps).
Maybe some of the typefaces you’ve encountered are set up similarly, in which case the designs are in the font but maybe not found in the way you think.
@eliason: I built a set of small-caps figures which are only employed by c2sc, and now I ponder about which other figure sets should be substituted by the c2sc figures: just the default figures (whatever the defaults are), or also other sets like tf/osf/tosf?
May I ask how you manage this in your typefaces?
I do the same and include them in most of my fonts.
Yes, in my opinion .case should make sure all figures are turned to lining versions, .sc should retain whatever versions are used with lowercase by default, and .c2sc should make sure all are turned to small caps versions. Tabular and proportional should mirror each other.
Those are my general principles, circumstances (like say if the lining figs are three-quarter-height or something) might require departures.
some of this is due to fear, or what one might call a general emotional weakness: I used to work with a fellow, a Master of Arts with many years graphic design experience, who upon seeing my use of non-lining figures, exclaimed what are these funny numbers?. some of it is due to ignorance: people think that numbers should look like capital letters, they may not even activate the thought that their use with lowercase letters is often jarring and inelegant. some of the above problems are extant within the type designers of the world, so the problems are reinforced. i design funny numbers first, always.