Is there a way of crossing 7s, Os and Zs when typing?

Recently when updating an application, my install code was not being accepted. Turned out I had mistaken a Z as a 2 in the documentation received when I purchased the application. (Why companies use the wrong typeface for these tasks is another question).

When I was a programmer, the coding software always automatically crossed Zs, Os and 7s on entry to avoid confusing 2s, 0s and 1s respectively. By habit I still do this crossing stuff when writing by hand.

Is there a setting in macOS that I can set to automatically cross Zs, Os and 7s when I am typing? I don’t want to use key combinations. I’ve looked at the app store for font keyboards but found none that meets this purpose and most available are for iPhones and iPads.

I’m going to go out on a limb and give the best answer I can from my own typographical knowledge, in the hopes that if I’m wrong, my being wrong will invoke whatever that Internet law is that says that the fastest way to get a right answer to a question is to post a wrong answer. :-)

To the best of my knowledge, the only way to get the effect you want is to use a font that already has those characters crossed/slashed.

The reason for this is simple: those added strokes don’t have any function for the meaning of the character. They exist only to clarify the identity of the character. So they don’t exist as a separate character.

There are a number of “combining” glyphs defined in Unicode, almost all of them being linguistic accents of some kind (in Latin script and its analogues, like Cyrillic—scripts not related to the Latin alphabet often have many more kinds of combining glyphs, and Korean Hangul script is made up almost entirely of combining glyphs). They change the pronunciation of the character in particular languages, and can be switched in and out automatically by software.

But these added strokes you’re looking for don’t change anything about the meaning of the character. All they do is reduce ambiguity as to which character it is. A zero with a slash means exactly the same thing as a zero without one. So I honestly don’t believe Unicode even has combining or stand-alone glyphs defined for those slashed characters separate from the “normal” versions.

That said, there are a large number of fonts available out there with slashed zeroes. Slashed sevens and Zs are less common—those tend to be considered a “European affectation” (as one of my high school English teachers put it), though I, like you, habitually cross them in handwriting, and for the exact same reason. I can’t, off the top of my head, think of a single font, other than “handwritten”-style fonts, that slashes those characters.

Your best bet is a monospaced font designed for coders. Those are typically crafted in such a way as to eliminate ambiguity between characters, because mixing them up when coding is very bad mojo. So even without the slashes in sevens and Zs, they would be clearly distinct from ones and twos. (Also helps with the bugaboo of many modern sans serif faces: identical lowercase 'L’s and capital 'i’s.)

There are several to choose from. I’m kind of partial to Microsoft’s Consolas, in part because it’s easy to get. It’s bundled with Windows, Microsoft Office/365, and the MS Office Viewer apps, and Bare Bones has licensed it directly from Ascender (the same type foundry Microsoft licenses it from) for BBEdit. There’s also an open source version called Inconsolata, available from Google Fonts. I don’t recommend using the current version of Apple’s Monaco, because the lowercase 'a’s aren’t strongly distinct enough from lowercase 'o’s for my tastes. (Single-story sans-serif lowercase 'a’s are frequently hard to distinguish from lowercase 'o’s.)

Okay, Internet, now prove me wrong! :-D


Fonts emulating older typefaces will have them, but they are expensive. as in a couple hundred dollars or more. These are mostly used for making facsimiles.

I started crossing Z when I was working in electronics because of the Z vs 2 problem. I started slashing 7 when a rent payment I wrote in Germany was interpreted as “10” not the actual “70”. I’ve not had to slash the zero character as it is usually understood from its context. I thought I’d try different keyboards to see if any of them used the slashed characters, but even when I changed my keyboard to German the 7, 0 (zero), and Z were not slashed.

The other issue is whether other users (or devices) would be able to access the unusual fonts if you send them documents. It is very irritating to get a message to download fonts when opening a document.
Of course if you just use the fonts for your own purposes that is not an issue.

Although a costly alternative, I have used Fontlab in the past to get the Norwegian “OE” = Ø from a copy of O. Start with an Open Source font that allows editing if you wish it to be legal. The tools for drawing are kind of similar to Adobe Illustrator, as far as I remember.

Edit: Fontlab has a 10 day free trial.

You need special fonts to produce those, as others have said. A quick and dirty way for optical purposes is to use the ABC Extended keyboard and type Option Shift L after your character: 0̵, Z̵ , 7̵ But digitally these are probably no longer “numbers”.


Do computers in France or Germany (where the barred seven is used to distinguish it from the long upstroke of their ones) come with digits of that kind in their fonts?

Apple devices come with the same fonts no matter where they are sold. If you look at the Font Variation pane in Character Viewer for 7, you can find a couple fonts with crossed versions, like Bradley Hand Bold. Whether OpenType fonts include these in their typographical alternatives I don’t know, you would have to check each one.

Certain “publishing-class” applications (as I recall, InDesign might be one) have the capacity to simulate a custom glyph such as the ones you describe by doing an overstroke, but it’s not obvious how to invoke it and my recollection is that it is a pain to get it right. I am speaking entirely from what may be a hazy memory here, mostly involving work with fractions but also needing some of those added glyphs when I was setting concert programs. I did it, but it was a decade ago.

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Interesting how in my email, those show up as properly “crossed”, but on the web site here (in Opera), they show with a low-placed hyphen after the character itself. Definitely something whose display is highly dependent on the app being used and the font being displayed.

I wouldn’t recommend that method for the zero, though. A slashed zero normally uses a diagonal slash, not a horizontal cross. In my email, that zero looks like a Greek theta. And slashed zeroes are fairly common in fonts.


I should have been more specific—they’re almost exclusively a characteristic of European handwriting, not typically used in typesetting. In traditional serif fonts, the serifs are usually more than sufficient to make 7 and Z distinct from 1 and 2. It’s the modern use of primarily sans serif fonts that has made this a bigger issue.

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For grins, I just ran through Font Book on my iMac and found none that did all three or even two of them. I found two that do both upper and lowercase Z (Aurivan & Bugler) along with some that just do uppercase. I found twelve that do the 7 but none were well known. For the 0 zero, I found exactly 1: Monaco

macOS’s screen reader, VoiceOver, when reading the whole paragraph reads 0̵, Z̵ , 7̵ as “zero, z, seven” so that’s sign that the numbers are still recognized as numbers. When navigating word-by-word, VoiceOver reads 0̵ the same way but for the others it says “z with combining short stroke overlay” and “seven with combining short stroke overlay,” acknowledging the presence of the diacritical mark.

From the Unicode description, U+0335 Combining Short Stroke Overlay, it sounds like it’s meant to be used for the same purpose as strikethrough styling, to indicate the text has been replaced and/or should be disregarded.

U+01B5 Latin Capital Letter Z with Stroke and U+01B6 Latin Small Letter Z with Stroke have the look but are used differently in other languages. Also, VoiceOver doesn’t pronounce that character; for “The Ƶ character” it says “The character” and when navigating word-by-word says its Unicode name, "Latin Capital Letter Z with Stroke.’ It’s not that unusual for a screen reader to not know what to say for every Unicode character; VoiceOver might say something when loaded with a language that uses Ƶ.

I see the same result in Firefox and Chrome (Opera is based on Chrome). Apparently, they have a problem rendering that diacritical mark, a problem Safari and other Apple applications don’t have.

If the aim is to read text using these characters yourself on your Mac, you can’t always choose the font used in applications. If you enable Accessibility > Zoom > Hover Text, you can get a large-text view of the text underneath the cursor when you press the Command key. Furthermore, if you click the ‘i’ button next to the Hover Text toggle, you can choose the font the large text is displayed in.


I rely on PopChar for easily inserting odd characters. It does show a capital and a small z with a stroke (in Latin Extended-B) but has no keyboard shortcut for it in the US keyboard. However, if you choose a German-Standard keyboard, Geneva shows the shortcut opt-’ + shift-z for a z with a strike. This gets complicated as on the German keyboards y and z change places, and the apostrophe key, ', produces an ä. There are no keyboard shortcuts for a zero or a one with a strike with either US or German-Standard layouts.

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No they don’t, and there’s absolutely no equivalence using typefaces. The French definitely have no problems using numerals in, say, Helvetica.
I live in France and find the whole difference between handwritten and printed numerals very strange.

Most people’s handwriting has differences from typeset characters. It’s just a question of which characters and what the differences are.

For example, when hand-printing (I’m going to leave cursive out of this, because it’s a completely different matter), do you draw your lowercase 'a’s with one story (single loop, small tail at bottom right) or two (loop with a hook going from top right back across to the left)? Most people draw them with one story, but a majority of text faces use a two-story ‘a’. (I’m weird—I actually draw a two-story ‘a’ in my printing.)

Or how about lowercase ‘g’? Many typefaces have a two-story ‘g’ (descending loop coming from the lower left of the bowl, going across to the right and then curving under to close back on the left) instead of a one-story ‘g’ (hook from lower right across to the left). I have never seen anyone handwrite a ‘g’ this way—it’s almost exclusively a typeset glyph.

I also, unusually, draw ‘8’ as two stacked circles instead of a crossover loop (not common in handwriting), and lowercase ‘t’ with the short hook at the bottom right (again, not common in handwriting). Some people draw ‘4’ with a closed triangle, others with an open-top box (and I’ve seen both in typefaces). Some put a hook on the downstroke of ‘9’, some leave it a straight line. These are just individual idiosyncrasies, but we have no trouble reading them.

It just happens that the “European” style of numerals is almost universally used in French handwriting; it’s still an individual choice.

If you want some real fun with handwritten vs. typeset characters, try learning to decipher old handwritten Chinese or Japanese (as frequently seen in Chinese and Japanese artworks). It makes Latin- and Cyrillic-alphabet cursive look easy.

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This is known as a “strikethrough.” There are services and apps that will do this; here’s just one:

Strikethroughs can be accomplished directly in Word:

And there are free strikethrough fonts:

What you can’t do, however, is strike through in a different colour from the text (such as black text, red strikethrough), which is a shame.

You can change color of a strikethrough in Word:

And in Pages:

Adobe Acrobat:

And even on an iPhone or iPad: