In my last post I explored using a free font called Numberpile, designed by Ray Larabie of Typodermic Fonts to create circled numbered rehearsal marks in Sibelius. Numberpile uses OpenType ligatures to create beautiful fixed-width circles around numbers from 0 to 200.
When I got in touch with Ray to learn more about Numberpile, he told me about an even more comprehensive font that he designed. It’s called Numbers with Rings, and it uses a system that allows you to generate numbers in rings up to 999999. You can even have ringed letters or letter/digit combinations — truly useful for music scores.
Numbers with Rings is available from Fontspring and it costs $49. It works beautifully in Sibelius with a little bit of fiddling, and yes, it is possible to use all of these enclosures:
Read on to unlock the secrets of Numbers with Rings.
The Numbers with Rings system
Like Numberpile, Numbers with Rings relies on OpenType ligatures to create complete symbols. However, unlike Numberpile, which uses parentheses to create the ligature, Numbers with Rings relies on the prefix to determine both the shape of the enclosure and the number of characters within it. You can have up to 6 characters in any enclosure.
Let’s start with the trusty circle. Its prefix is represented by the letters a through h. It is probably easiest to look at this chart to explain how it works:
(Ignore the “g” before each series. The “g” draws a filled circle which is designed to be used with characters of a contrasting color, but it won’t work in Sibelius because it’s not possible to have more than one color in the same text object.)
An incredible 11 varieties of shapes are available. Three of them are easy to access with regular letters:
- a-h: Circles
- h-m: Squares (boxes)
- o-t: Rounded squares
The other eight require delving into the Unicode Private Use Area (more on that in a bit):
- E142-E147: Pentagons
- E149-E14E: Hexagons
- E150-E155: Heptagons
- E157-E15C: Octagons
- E15E-E163: Rectangles
- E165-E16A: Plaques
- E16C-E171: Spiky rings
- E173-E178: Super-ellipses
The PDF manual for Numbers with Rings contains complete instructions for its use. Next, we’ll explore how to use it in Sibelius.