Different "story" structures in small sizes: a poll

Which seems truer to you?

A. In optical-size cuts, for smaller settings it makes more sense to gravitate to single-story /a and /g forms, because their simpler topography and larger counters make them more readable.

B. In optical-size cuts, for smaller settings it makes more sense to gravitate to double-story /a and /g forms, because their unique structures are better at differentiating them from other letters.

(For those of you who predictably want to reply "it depends," on what does it depend?)

Comments

  • \a should not look like \o or \e, especially in the a_e ligature.

    I like the the shape of Book Antiqua (see the cursive) for readability. Bodoni is a no-go.


  • George ThomasGeorge Thomas Posts: 588
    B, plus enlarge the x-height, shorten the ascenders and descenders. Consistency.
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 2,181
    I lean towards (B), but that’s partly because I always have a small part of my brain that is thinking about IPA and other phonetic notation alphabets in which a/ɑ and g/ɡ are different letters.
  • Alex VisiAlex Visi Posts: 132
    edited June 21
    One can start here: have small sized double-story letters ever been a problem during the centuries before modernism, even though printing quality was worse than it is now?
  • Igor PetrovicIgor Petrovic Posts: 113
    I always vote for double story a, especially in an italic a_e ligature. As for the g probably one story, because I have seen more badly designed/off-color double-story examples than single-story ones.

    "gg" is relatively common in English, and I have seen several books where you can spot "gg stamps" all across the page immediately :)
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,746
    edited June 21
    I followed Adrian Frutiger’s example (Avenir) in my Futura-informed typeface (Sense), with a two-storey \a.

    I usually give \æ two stories, notably in the italics with a one-storey \a.
    I like the way that the loopy bowl of \e flows easily into the bowl of two-storey \a.

     
  • Out of curiosity, are there any languages that use both the oe and ae where the misreading of one for the other would change the meaning of the word?
  • Matthijs HerzbergMatthijs Herzberg Posts: 114
    edited June 21
    @James Hultquist-Todd French uses œ pretty frequently, and æ occasionally for loanwords from Greek and Latin, as in English. As such, æ is quite rare and when it's used, it not likely to be in a word that may be very similar but using an œ where æ would go (like how in small pt Futura "far" and "for" may be easily mistaken).
    Besides French, only Old Norse, Old Icelandic, and Breton may use both (according to Underware, anyway: I don't speak either of those).
  • If you mean the sequences, Latin has both coena 'meal' and caena 'muds'.
  • I can’t remember the name but there is this typeface that uses very simplified shapes but that makes it readable at very smaller sizes (2pt or something). It uses two story forms. 
  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 212
    edited September 25
    That sounds like Minuscule by Thomas Huot-Marchand.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,746
    edited September 26
    American exceptionalism:
    It’s story in the USA, storey in the other main varieties of English.
  • I vote B 
  • I can’t remember the name but there is this typeface that uses very simplified shapes but that makes it readable at very smaller sizes (2pt or something). It uses two story forms. 
    2 pt is a challenge. Let's figure out the limits.

    Human visual resolution is somewhere near 120 lines per cm, or ~300 dpi. At 300 dpi 2 pt (US Printers Points) equals 8 pixels. If the output device can only render pixels on or off in a strict rectangular array, an \E needs a height of 5 pixels and \M, \W a width of 5 pixels. Also 1 pixel is needed for spacing.

    5 x 5 is used for eye charts to measure visual acuity. There is the old one by Snellen using serifs and the more modern LogMar (sans serif). They have only Latin capital letters. There are attempts to include the full ASCII range like http://mkweb.bcgsc.ca/snellen-optotype-font/Optician Sans is a font for LogMar.

    8 x 8 was usual in the old days for bitmap fonts. This would allow 2 pixels for descenders, but they shifted up \g and \y. It also allowed a bold version. Looking into my collection, they all use 2 counters for \a to avoid mismatch with \o and \c, and open tail for \g:



    3 x 3 is the smallest and would allow 1 pt. Maybe it's readable but not legible if some unknown words need disambiguation of single letters:



    IMHO white space is important. If a Swiss (sans serif, monoline) font is just scaled down, the dot of \i can connect with the stem and then looks like \l. Had this problem while reading a scientific PDF using a narrow "Swiss" and had to zoom twice to read some unknown scientific terms. 


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