Plain text custom fraction input

Marcel Schneider charupdate at
Fri Jul 24 04:33:46 CDT 2015

The Plain text custom fraction input issue IMHO has so far been resolved at a certain level and to some extent.  Itʼs a bit complicated for me to explain.  As you already know, Iʼm still lacking the reflex of doing first a search on the internet.  Only after my last yesterdayʼs e-mail I did and was given the link to a Microsoft Community wiki:
where we find some information written up for Microsoft Office users about the input of fractions using Unicode super- and subscripts along with the fraction slash.  For practice, very detailed step-by-step instructions show how to use the Special Characters dialog for this purpose as well as how to program in VBA the addition of a huge set of autocorrect entries, so that the user does not need to do more than to type a digits-slash-digits sequence to get it converted to a plain text fraction.  Macros are provided for download.

>From there on I understood fortunately that Microsoft must really be one of the most user friendly IT companies, given that it allows people to publish on its websites very detailed information about how to get «styled fractions» [I'm now using the angle quotation marks, instead of mentioning that this is a quotation to make sure that nobody reads a submeaning in the quotes; please see my suggestion in the thread “Global apostrophe solution?”], well, how to get «styled fractions» without using any formatting feature, just in Unicode-enriched plain text (by what I mean plain text using Unicode characters without any restriction), using fonts that wholly implement Unicode *and* are proportional (which point seems not to be specially mentioned).

By this search, I found also another page, where a cheerful Lady presents to the users of a given software not less than five methods of formatting digit-slash-digit sequences as fractions, but not mentioning by a single word the plain text input method.  As my goal is not to blame marketing strategies—and even less, to criticize the work of anyone who cares for the instruction and edification of the users—but to enhance user experience, neither the URL, nor the product name, nor the keywords nor the name of the search engine are disclosed here.

Iʼm very sorry to bring this information so late, after—not before—solliciting feedback from the List Subscribers, whom I thank for their kind replies and the many pieces of information I would not have got aware of by just doing a search on the internet. But honestly it would have been correct to start the thread by bringing in *all* the information that can be at my reach. My apologies...


To complete this thread on fraction input, part of “Input methods at the age of Unicode”, Iʼd like to mention one more way of using the keyboard.  As far as I understand, smart keyboard frameworks, of whom the only one I know is Keyman, allow to automatize what in Windows keyboard drivers is changing the shift state three times.  Along with all other useful toggles we can implement and figure out, Keyman lets us create what I'm calling a Fraction toggle.  Once the Fraction flag set, the layout converts all digits to superscripts, and the slash to U+2044.  The slash then sets the layout to another state where all digits are converted to subscripts, and typing a non-digit character would then set the keyboard back to its normal state.

I recall that this works in plain text, like this: ⁵⁄₇, ⁷⁄₉, ¹¹²³⁴⁵⁶⁷⁸⁹⁰⁄₁₂₃₄₅₆₇₈₉₀.  The font must contain the complete range of super- and subscripts (which it does normally when the fraction slash is present).  In fonts that have different glyphs for numerator/denominator and for superscript/subscript, the use of the precomposed fractions is discouraged for harmony and consistency if plain text custom fractions are input in the same document.

Font designers who have created superscript and subscript digits glyphs in OpenType fonts, are welcome to unveil the relationship between these and the numerator/denominator glyphs.  Developers who have programmed a fraction formatting feature in a rendering engine, are equally welcome to share how the common slash is given the slant of a fraction slash.

Best regards,
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