The RBRC battery recycling logo was recently updated to add a dash to the final digit 7 (seven) in the phone number:

RBRC logo with dash in numeral 7

Does this make the phone number more legible? In what situations, if any, is writing the numeral 7 with a dash appropriate? Bear in mind that the logo is often found on batteries, where the text may be very small and on a non-flat surface.

  • 1
    Although I like dashed 7's on handwritten things, personally I find the 7 a bit distracting in that font, and at firs I'm mentally trying to process whether that's an upside down british pounds symbol or a number or a symbol or... I would have used a 1 with bottom serifs rather than adding a dash to the 7 to make them more clearly "different" Jul 31, 2014 at 19:12
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    My gut feeling is that this is a response to consumer complaints about the readability of the phone number. Not sure if this was the best solution...
    – bwDraco
    Jul 31, 2014 at 20:35
  • They could also just route both phone numbers to the same call center.
    – bishop
    Jun 16, 2015 at 2:21
  • If I don't look at the 7 on the right while looking at the 1 on the left I find it a little confusing to figure out it is a 1 and not a 7. I would consider adding an extra dash below the 1.
    – Alvaro
    Nov 7, 2016 at 0:25

2 Answers 2


This is most prevalent with hand-written numbers as some people draw their 1's like their 7's. The dash is used the differentiate the two from each other.

With respect to this specific case, I assume it is for the same reason - because the number is along a curve the 7 could be interpreted as a 1, so the dash was added for clarity.

I don't think I have actually seen a non-'handwritten' typeface that has a 7 with a dash in it.

Another method is to add a serif (underline on the bottom) to 1's to differentiate it from 7's.

  • Since the 7 in this logo is rotated on its side, so it is easier to misinterpret it for a 1. A stroke across the 7 helps distinguish it from a 1. Another possible soution might be to make the logo more oval, so the 7 is not on its side, or to add the phone number below, etc.
    – JeromeR
    Aug 1, 2014 at 17:39
  • Dashing handwritten 7's is also cultural: its the way that the French are taught to write "7" at school.
    – PhillipW
    Dec 10, 2014 at 13:21
  • Just be careful not to strike your 7 too low or it might end up looking like a mis-serifed 1
    – bpromas
    Jun 1, 2015 at 19:33

For most purposes, legibility of the "7" would be enhanced far more by adding a serif to the left side of the crossbar and emphasizing the curve on the downstroke, than by adding a dash through it. There are a few rare situations where adding a dash might improve legibility, but they would generally involve things like markings on elastic surfaces. In such contexts, putting a strong bar on the bottom of a "1" might result in its being mistaken for a "2", but a distorted "1" without a bar at the bottom might be mistaken for a distorted "7". Adding a crossbar to the seven would yield a shape which, even distorted, would not resemble the distorted form of anything else.

Unless really severe distortion is expected, however, bending the down-stroke of the seven is probably a better approach than adding a dash. Note that some fonts add a dash to the "Z" to distinguish it from "2", and adding a dash to the seven might cause it to resemble a "Z" whose bottom got cut off.

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