double/single story lowercase /a/ and /g/

matt_yow's picture

Just wondering if there is any technical protocol for creating a double or single story of each character? I initially thought sans serif leaned towards single story characters and vice versa (serif typefaces were typically two story) but I see this isn't mandatory.

According to the ever-correct Wikipedia, there is no technical right or wrong.

Does anyone have any recommendations or preferences when you create these letters in a new typeface?

Number3Pencils's picture

Well, in a text font, such as you'd use for a book, you typically use the two-story variants of both letters. This helps people distinguish between a, q, and g. In italics, the a normally goes to one story, but the g more often than not keeps both stories. (But there are some text fonts with a one-story g.)

In any other kind of font, though, there aren't really rules. I'd say (non-italic) fonts with a two-story g probably almost always have a two-story a, but the reverse isn't true—tons of sans serif fonts have a two-story a and a one-story g.

eliason's picture

Since single story versions have fewer horizontal strokes to stack up, they are often attractive alternatives for fonts with relatively thick horizontals, such as monoline or low-contrast sans faces. (Especially true for /g/.) Note that Gill Sans Ultra (to name one example) switches over to the single-story form.

matt_yow's picture

thanks for the answers guys. I knew it was simple enough.


SciTechEngMath's picture

I've heard it said that the lc italic /g/ used when setting mathematical equations should be single-story, but have not yet heard a convincing rationale for why this should be true. I've seen it done both ways, and it doesn't seem to make a difference in legibility to my eyes. If anything, making /q/ and /g/ distinct is a very good reason to use a double-story /g/. I've seen one book that skimped on the typography and blindly adhered to the single-story rule and ended up using a very sans-looking single-story lc italic /g/ with Times italic to very poor effect.

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