Single story, double story a, g

Are there any proposals for a more elegant standard name for these variants? The “glasses” g isn’t even double story, it’s more triple story. My understanding is that the single story versions derive from cursive forms - so could it be a “type a” and a “type g” vs a “written a” and a “written g”? Or “formal a” vs “informal a”? (“Cursive a”, “cursive g” might be mistaken for an italic). Or “complex a” vs “simplified a”? Or some other thing far more obvious and clever?

Any of the above is legitimate, as long as you find it makes sense in the context of your design. The standard naming is not terribly accurate, as you pointed out, but it is the simplest (single vs. double) and most widely used. “Written” is a bit ambiguous in my opinion. “Formal” and “informal” might be confusing, as both the single- or double-storey versions can look formal as well as informal. There are people who write either. I would throw “script” and “print” into the mix of rather ambiguous terms I wouldn’t use. What is your issue with the current naming?

Note that the correct British spelling is “storey”, not “story”, these are two very different things.

Thanks for the reply.

No real issue, other than I struggle to find a decent descriptive term when talking about them, especially to laymen. Seems like an elegant and obvious solution is out there somewhere, but no-one’s thought of it yet.

‘Complex’ vs ‘simplified’ might work?

As no-one writes the ‘two-story’ versions and they only appear in fonts, perhaps ‘typographer’s’ vs ‘simplified’?

If it’s just about using the terms when talking to laymen, then maybe something like “book” and “simple” could suffice.

I’ve seen the term “handwritten a” being used for ɑ.

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Some people write the two-story version. I know I used to. :slight_smile:

I think “simplified” makes sense to describe the one-story a. Not sure about “typographer’s” for the other one. Both are used by typographers. Maybe “normal”? :man_shrugging:


What is really the problem with the term double-story and single-story? One had one closed counter, the other two :man_shrugging:. Keep in mind that other languages use similar terms as well (e.g. German). Reinventing a well accepted terminology will break a lot of communication. Do we really want that? Perhaps I only speak for myself, but I certainly don’t.


Agree that the terminology already in use works – just that it seems inelegant. To be pedantic (font designers? Pedantic? Surely not!) :slight_smile: technically both 'a’s have one enclosed counter, and while ‘double storey’ does describe the ‘complex’ a, the ‘complex’ g is more triple storey (but with two enclosed counters). The ‘double-storey’ ‘a’ and the ‘simple’ g are pretty much the same shape, just flipped, so using ‘different numbers of stories’ to differentiate them seems inconsistent here. Maybe I’m overthinking this… :0


I would think so :wink:

You might as well ask why serifs are called ‘serifs’, which doesn’t make any sense in any language and laymen don’t understand it. Just roll with it :upside_down_face:

And even “infant” (in the case of Gill Sans)!