The design of the 'a'

Asked by Yorick Brown

We are looking for a font that has the 'a' design like a round bowl rather than with than a half bowl with the tail over it (I'm not sure what the technical terms are, I'm afraid).

We noticed that the Ubuntu font has one design (half bowl) for normal and one design (full bowl) for italic style. Is there a reason for that?

Please let me know if you need more information.


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Paul Sladen (sladen) said :

Hello Yorick, thank you for the interesting question. The normal terminalogy for the two major varients of the lowercase 'a' and 'g' in Latin is "single-storey" vs. "double-storey". Generally, a upright 'a' and 'g' are double-storey, while the italics are single-storey. An Italic counterpart also tends to be slightly tighter (for Ubuntu, it's about 5% narrower in width) than the upright Regular version.

In Cyrillic there are *major* differences between the printed and kursive shapes, while in Latin those changes are are more subtle. In Ubuntu Italic, the 'a', 'd', 'f', 'u' each gain tails on the bottom-right; and the 'e' has a rounded bowl; rather than a sharp corner at the end of the horizontal bar. It is common for typefaces to have variations across 'g', '&', 'v', 'w', 'k', 'Q' aswell. For a better discussion, Lukas Paltram (of Dalton Maag) as written about the differences in the Ubuntu Italic:

There are some additional differences in the Ubuntu Mono Italic that might be of interest. In the following post there is an image half-way down (you can click to get a PDF version). This showes how Ubuntu proportional, Ubuntu Mono and Ubuntu Mono Italic differ in the design of the letters. Just like real people, they are part of the same family, but not simply identical clones and each has their own features and proportions!

Wikipedia has some more information on the subject of Italic type styles:

Let me know if you're like any further information. Remember that the "Ubuntu Font Family" is an open and free typeface, that comes with full source code. So, as long as you follow the Ubuntu Font Licence for your new version, you're welcome to customise and modify "Ubuntu" to suit the needs of your organisation or company.

If you're unsure how to modify a font, the best would be to find a type designer, or company (such as Dalton Maag) and fund them to design and make the modifications for you. All the required source code for the Ubuntu Fony Family can be downloaded from:

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