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

Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 241
edited May 4 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)


  • Adam LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 241
    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 EliasonCraig Eliason Posts: 1,366
    Does kinda seem like some guy named Al is suddenly the center of attention!
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,629
    edited May 4
    Also, I keep catching myself reading it as the abbreviation for Adobe Illustrator.
  • Ray LarabieRay Larabie Posts: 1,356
    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 LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 241
    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 ButlerJohn Butler Posts: 195
    Adobe Illustrator will destroy all our jobs! Everything old is new again.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 2,098
    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 PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,632
    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 LaddAdam Ladd Posts: 241
    edited July 14
    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 PhinneyThomas Phinney Posts: 2,632
    edited July 14
    Ah, I goofed up my code though. Simple fix:

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