g's anyone?

londontype's picture

Typefaces are collections of individual letters, so it's OK if we occasionally fixate on the design of individual letters, right? The distinguishing characteristics of the sans letter, lacking serifs and usually being more or less monolineal, seem more striking than those of the serifed letter. How the letter is drawn, its basic shape, comes to the fore in the absence of concerns about serif shapes & directions, and stroke width. So what about lowercase sans g's. I love the eyeglass style (Gill) and don't like the Frutiger//Futura-style. Does anyone else care?

londontype's picture

closed-bottom binocular “g” can cause a -minor- reading hiccup

This may be, but what bothers me about the single-story open-tailed g is that it faces left - against the reading direction. I don’t think any other glyphs (even a, j) do this as strongly as the single-story g. A word that begins with such a g is not sealed off, sort of like a layout that has a picture that looks off page left. The standard binocular g seems to seal off the word or at least “look” in the right direction - to the right.

hrant's picture

I was actually talking about the open-bottom binocular "g".
I don't like the monocular "g" myself, although for reasons
of anti-modularity, not direction (which is essentially moot
for immersive reading, although admittedly not for display).

What's interesting though is that I had the exact same faux (see below) epiphany in 1998, while reading the chapter in Smeijers's "Counterpunch" about the "j". He wanted the "j" to be sitting down on the baseline; and suddenly I noticed, subconsciously I swear, that an "a" was facing the wrong way; except it wasn't; except it was. I figured all the letters should face rightward (or at least not leftward). After all, all the UC letters are like that (except for the "J", and that's a phoney letter), and, perhaps like Cassandre, I wanted to bring some order to the mottled Latin lowercase. I started trying some glyphs, but then was made to realize that it doesn't make sense; direction is moot. The good news* is that this aborted effort spawned my long-standing alphabet reform work.

* Actually, really bad news as far as many people are concerned.


londontype's picture

Most of my epiphanies turn out to be faux.

James Arboghast's picture

I posit that we don’t know that.

We experience it. I mean, I read a heck-load of text in print and can't ever recall tripping up on a binocular g. Once your brain has been axon-modelled by reading experience the integration is automatic. Only when we discuss it, as now, do we decide we "know" any different in terms of design theory. And of course "different" is not neccessarily better or worse, just different.

If it works, it works. But the story never ends there...I could go on.

...the only people who are really adversely affected by the open-bottom binocular “g” are... certain type designers! :-)

Yes. In a lot of those cases it does seem to be a matter of ideology, of what one believes or has adopted as incontravertible about Latin letter forms---about certain structures in particular. Type designers without those beliefs tend to enjoy a greater range of expression and wider structural palette, with impunity :^)

No, I think it’s just tom-foolery.
It’s actually from an early 20th-century ATF face.

Its very effective, whatever you call it.

I was thinking Elvis.

In that case you want a bouffe bob with a horn lick coming off it.

Your horn, by the way, looks like a shock of hair coz its facing backwards. Point it forwards and will become a horn.

j a m e s

hrant's picture

Well, I certainly agree that readers can handle a lot more
variance than many type designers give them credit for.

But if you allow one letter to have a strongly divergent
form (the "g", in its closed-bottom binocular form) you
better be ready to leverage divergence to that extent in
the alphabet as a whole; otherwise all you're really doing
is engaging in creative lethargy.


James Arboghast's picture

This is exactly what I am driving towards. More divergence of form, everywhere. I'm beyond "ready to leverage" this principal. I've already designed a whole font based on it.

...creative lethargy...

That's what binocular g has become. Atrophied design with no relevant rationale to support it. Its perpetuation by type designers over five hundred years along with all the other long-standing typographic design conventions, and the extreme reticence to break those conventions, is the essence of type design and what type designers do. It's a lazy black art of compliance.

j a m e s

hrant's picture

> That’s what binocular g has become.

Among many, yes. But the form itself (especially in
its open-bottom version) is better than the mono form
for readability; in the same way that the bino "a" is
versus the mono one.


James Arboghast's picture

Quite correct. In that light, calling it "Atrophied design with no relevant rationale to support it. is a bit harsh. It's a bizarre atrophied structure that happens to have advantages for readability :^)

More dangerous is the "lazy compliance" part, resulting in over-modular, over-uniform fonts.

j a m e s

nickshanks's picture

I have a g‐related question so thought I'd pop it into this thread:
Does anyone know where I can get a free font with insular g at U+1D79 ?

dojr2's picture

I have spent quite some time reading this thread but it was well worth it. It is very thorough, except that it does not talk (enough) of two g designs which I favour: the sesquiocular g opening to the right & the left-facing g with a closed loop. I wanted to show two examples & this popped up on my facebook earlier on today:



1985's picture

Another same structure (sesquiocular?) to magenta g in above image:



nina's picture

For reference, that Ambroise "g" structure AFAIK goes back to Pierre Didot.
See this article on Typographica and also this image linked to therein.

1985's picture


riccard0's picture

A groovy one from the seventies:

(actually from Alba)

ninjin's picture

I'm on a quest for a great handwriting font that uses the looptail/eyeglasses style of lower-case g. Anyone have recommendations, or even tips for searching for such a thing? Foundries and font sites don't seem to specify this in their descriptions.

Thanks for any help!

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Hard to believe no one mentioned Dez’ Froggy yet.

Dept H's picture

Some little g's from a font I am working on.

ninjin's picture

@eliason - thank you! Awesome suggestion.

Anyone else know of a handwriting font with the cool little g's?

Stephen Coles's picture

Handwriting fonts with double-story 'g's:
FF Duper
Falling Leaves Moon
FF Providence Sans

ninjin's picture

@Stephen Coles - these are cool, thank you!

The PDF posted by @Ulli is great... I just wish it listed which font corresponded to each number. According to Google's translation of a page on that site: "The PDF files there is an answer key (key number), but which is not available to the public." Bummer. I wonder why this would be secret?

molte's picture

Dept H, that thin weight lowercase g is lovely. Is it available at all, or any time soon?

PabloImpallari's picture

Always loved the g in Chesterfield by Alan Meeks

iridiumkitten's picture

I know this thread is from forever ago, but I'm trying to get in contact with James Arboghast, or find his fonts.

nina's picture

@iridiumkitten: You you might try contacting him on Flickr, and his type is on MyFonts.

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