With more appearances of "AI" in text, I wonder about /I with crossbars

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Adam Ladd
Adam Ladd Posts: 259
edited May 2023 in Technique and Theory
I've noticed as I'm seeing these abbreviated /A /I letters for Artificial Intelligence popping up more frequently in sans fonts that have just a standard vertical stroke for the /I (unlike this sites font), that even in context of a sentence, I still seem to get a little sticking point when reading it. Wrestling with is it saying "Al" (lowercase /l, as in a person's name), even though I know it's not, especially just seeing a headline at a glance.

So it makes me wonder about font choices that do or don't have a clearer distinction between those glyphs, and more specifically if sans fonts would benefit from more crossbar /I (capital /i) glyph options.

I've seen text using "A.I." and even just "ai" when talking about it. Not as punchy, but perhaps easier to read(?)

Just kind of thinking aloud here, and maybe nothing of real substance, but curious.

(Screenshots from various sites)


Comments

  • Adam Ladd
    Adam Ladd Posts: 259
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    I suppose part of what I'm inquiring about is: what is your experience reading these letters? Do you have a preference (crossbars or not)? Do you typically design your sans fonts with the default /I as bar-less or with bars (this can be dependent on the design and how you treat the /l and /1)? Do you often include an alt /I with the option? Should type designers include both options more?

    Personally, I like the readability of the crossbar /I to help me quicker distinguish it's intent in the word. But visually, I find them a little clunky at times and tend to prefer the bar-less standard /I. (There have been a few fonts where I do include an alt option, but that requires a savvy user to decide to use it.)
  • Craig Eliason
    Craig Eliason Posts: 1,416
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    Does kinda seem like some guy named Al is suddenly the center of attention!
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,400
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    Weird Al Writes Song About Weird AI
    Weird AI Writes Song About Weird Al

    New words create new problems—the Japan Times newspaper uses a font with a long tail Q. In articles about LGBTQ issues, it's fascinating to see what that tail will smash into.
  • Adam Ladd
    Adam Ladd Posts: 259
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    Came across a lesser-occurring usage of 'Ai' in some ads while browsing the web (I rarely see it like this).

    Comparing this to some of the original screenshot examples. Posting for context and although slightly odd feeling, I still found it to be a quicker read.



  • John Butler
    John Butler Posts: 270
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    Adobe Illustrator will destroy all our jobs! Everything old is new again.
  • Nick Shinn
    Nick Shinn Posts: 2,169
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    One might consider putting in some Contextual code to substitute a serifed “I” in the acronym AI, for fonts that otherwise have an I without serifs.
  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,800
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    In general, the typeface itself will determine whether a serifed I is appropriate as the default form. For example, when I look at your typefaces, Adam, I feel like I know whether I expect the default cap I to be serifed or not.

    For cases where the default cap I is not serifed, then yes, what Nick said. If cap I is preceded by A, but not by another cap before the A, substitute the serifed version.

    For example, in AFDKO format, you might create a class for caps, and then...

    ignore sub @caps @caps A I';
    sub @caps A I' by I.serifed;

  • Adam Ladd
    Adam Ladd Posts: 259
    edited July 2023
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    Thanks for the feedback Thomas, Nick. That seems a good option. And agree, likely more design specific whether appropriate or feels forced.

    At the least, the awkwardness of reading it sometimes (though it's being helped by becoming more familiar) got me thinking the inclusion of an alt serifed /I could be helpful in certain fonts, particularly as a Contextual alt as you noted.
  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,800
    edited July 2023
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    Ah, I goofed up my code though. Simple fix:

    ignore sub @caps  A I';
    sub A I' by I.serifed;
  • Kent Lew
    Kent Lew Posts: 908
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    Thomas — If you want to catch it only in a standalone context of the AI abbreviation, wouldn’t you want to contextualize both lookback and lookahead?:

    ignore sub @caps A I' @caps;
    sub A I' by I.serifed;

    Otherwise, you’ll end up with inconsistent I’s in capitalized words like AIRLINE or AIKIDO.

  • Thomas Phinney
    Thomas Phinney Posts: 2,800
    edited June 28
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    I think you would have to do both of them separately; the code you have would only work in the middle of a word, right? But the intent is good.

    I *think* this works, but it has been a while since I needed multiple “ignores” (if ever?) so I am not certain if there is some other thing one needs to do to make this work:

    ignore sub @caps  A I';
    ignore sub A I' @caps;
    sub A I' by I.serifed;
  • Ray Larabie
    Ray Larabie Posts: 1,400
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    While you're at it, add serifs to the 'I' when it's followed by a lowercase 'L'.
  • Kent Lew
    Kent Lew Posts: 908
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    Ah, right. Good catch. That double ignore syntax should compile as intended.