“Why do the digits look like they do?” to answer this recurrent question one may find on the web many strange and diverse theories on the origin of the shapes of our modern, Hindu-Arabic numerals. Unfortunately, most if not all of those theories are patently false! One that went viral claims: “Our present method of writing figures is based on an early Arabic geometric design (see below) where each digit contains its own number of corners or angles, for instance the digit 1 contains one angle, the digit 3 has three angles, the digit 7 has seven angles and so on.” It’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s just plain nonsense!

Let us leave aside these abstruse theories, as there are a whole range of serious and documented books on the origin of numbers, including Georges Ifrah’s excellent book “Universal History of Numbers“.

However, there is nothing preventing us from finding or inventing original and / or fun typographic methods to create numbers, like the one illustrated below, which requires only two stylized numerals: a 4 and a 8.