Why are A and E crossbars so rarely aligned?

BitcoinWednesdayBitcoinWednesday Posts: 7
edited January 2020 in Technique and Theory
Hi Type Designers,
I'm an interested novice who is curious to know your thoughts on this burning type design question:
Are there any good examples of type design in which they are aligned?
Thanks in advance for your answers!


  • Adam JagoszAdam Jagosz Posts: 639
    edited January 2020
    These are some results from a MyFonts search of some tags:
    “low crossbar E”:

    and “high crossbar A”:

    Note that the tags don't always reflect what's in the actual typeface (some of these might have matched as search phrases rather than tags), pretty useful still though. Hardly any of these are perfectly aligned (usually there's always optical compensation, even if very minor), and some examples that have intentionally funky proportions, even have them misaligned on purpose (Marseille).
    As for notable.... I think Cormorant does this.

  • Frode HellandFrode Helland Posts: 157
    edited January 2020
    Because of the diagonals, the space above the crossbar is very tiny and the space below very large. Allowing these to diverge establish a different pattern/logic from most other characters. There are examples of typefaces that chose instead to exaggerate other internal spaces, or leave them off-kilter on purpose (though this mostly sorts under unimaginative).
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 81
    It's very simple: the crossbar of A is more visible where there is more room for it, and the counter (interior) is so narrow at the top that you don't want it to be a tiny white speck in danger of filling in. Visual center of a square is a little above the true halfway point, but the actual center of a triangle, equidistant from the three corners, is much lower.
    As for examples where they can be equal height, there's Deco-style low crossbars, or rectangular constructions such as LCD.
  • Christian ThalmannChristian Thalmann Posts: 1,597
    edited January 2020
    For the record: They're not aligned in Cormorant. I made the crossbar in /A/ as high as I could get away with (above /E/), whereas the one in Cormorant Garamond is a bit below. (I consider Cormorant Garamond the default style of the family these days.)
    I'm not surprised that they're not aligned in most typefaces. Each letter has their own design constraints to satisfy.
  • Vasil StanevVasil Stanev Posts: 577
    edited January 2020
    They are almost always at a different level, because the top of the A would get cluttered and mess with the so called "color" of the font (an even color is what's needed, which mean no patch in a text with that font appears too black when you squeeze your eyes). This is especially true in bolder weights. Meanwhile the crossbar of the E is almost always in the middle, because the letter is vertically (pseudo)symmetrical.

    When doing the letter AE, though, various techniques are implemented to balance the two crosslines, depending on the style.
Sign In or Register to comment.