Is there a sans-serif font that appears different for I and l? If we are not familiar with "Kim Jong Il", we might spell his name as Kim Jong Two or other incorrect ones.

  • Most sans-serif fonts have I and l glyphs that look different. Usually, the lowercase l (surprisingly?) is taller than the uppercase I. Separately, the letters may be easy to confuse, but when combined, as in ‘Kim Jong Il’, it’s usually no problem to distinguish them. – Karl Ove Hufthammer Dec 29 '11 at 9:57
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    @KarlOveHufthammer: I believe that most people cannot notice that l is taller than I even in "Kim Jong Il" (if it is read at a glance). Thanks anyway. – kiss my armpit Dec 29 '11 at 10:16
  • Many sans serif fonts have tilted lower part of lower case l, e.g. Canatrell. – Khaled Hosny Dec 29 '11 at 14:00
  • See the new Verano Sans. – Thérèse Jun 6 at 0:29

10 Answers 10


From the LaTeX2e Font Catalogue: Sans Serif Fonts, there is venturis:

enter image description here

\usepackage[lf]{venturis} %% lf option gives lining figures as default; 
              %% remove option to get oldstyle figures as default
\renewcommand*\familydefault{\sfdefault} %% Only if the base font of the document is to be sans serif
Kim Jong Il
  • 25
    Not sure I would call this sans-serif. Maybe peu de serif. – Andreas Dec 12 '12 at 20:36

Some examples for fonts in T1 font-encoding

Found in a full MiKTeX installation, but also in my (portable) TeX Live installation:

font test result: fonts with good distinction between I and l



\newcommand*{\test}{W. H. Gates III. | Ill Bill}
\newcommand*{\testfont}[2]{#1: \textsf{\fontfamily{#2}\selectfont\test}}









- * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * -


\testfont{MS Trebuchet}{trebuchet}



If used alone or with their family companions, most of them are called with a \usepackage command. For the three fonts below the starred line one needs to manually install the winfonts package.

Just for comparison some fonts with no or only a little distinction between big i and small L:

font test result: fonts with no or slight distinction between I and l


What about the new Source Sans Pro by Adobe? enter image description here

  • Yes, I’ve forgotten (but I wrote “examples”). – Speravir Dec 13 '12 at 16:33

The lack of distinction between the uppercase "i" and the lowercase "L" in many sans-serif fonts bothers me.

It's a legibility issue.

To help mitigate this issue, I am maintaining a simple list of sans-serif fonts which do not have this distinction problem, or at least less of this problem.

Maybe I am obsessing over something silly, but here it is:



A true sans-serif font might opt to add a finial to the lower case L, such as

DIN 1451 Mittelschrift example

With the usual caveat involved in using truetype fonts in LaTeX.


Not in TeX Live (not yet, at least), but if you’re using xetex or luatex, here’s an option: IBM has just released a beta version of its new corporate type family, IBM Plex, containing unambiguous sans as well as monospace and serif fonts, all with real italics and in eight weights. The family is open source and available at github.com/IBM/plex.

Kim Jong Il


Another unambiguous sans is Archia, of which the regular weight is available free with a tweet or a Facebook share (the whole family of six upright weights has a “pay what you want” pricing policy).

sample of Archia

(There are more samples on Behance.)

Don’t overlook the Go fonts by Bigelow & Holmes, which are available in TeX Live. As Chuck Bigelow explains in his notes (texmf-dist/doc/fonts/gofonts/gofonts.pdf), this family conforms to the German DIN 1450 legibility standard, nicely described by Linotype.

sample of Go

Also noteworthy is Luciole, which is designed for readers with impaired vision. Its regular, italic, bold, and bold italic are free:

sample of Luciole

Update: Thanks to Bob Tennent, CTAN now has a package supporting IBM Plex for LaTeX and pdfLaTeX as well as XeLaTeX and LuaLaTeX.


Besides choosing fonts to be used in the document itself, it is also helpful to have a good font for doing the editing work. There it is equally helpful to be able to distinguish characters like o O 0 Q and l I | easily. My recommendation is neither free nor cheap but after switching editing fonts for some time I have setteled with PragmataPro.


Another fine choice is the Raleway font, which is available in a recent TeXlive via \usepackage{raleway}. It is interoperable with pdftex, but also with the new Unicode engines xetex and luatex.

W. H. Gates III. | Ill Bill

enter image description here


I like Tahoma and Verdana because they have serifs on the capital I, but the rest of the characters are sans-serif.


Segoe UI works as well. I don't know if this font is commonly available. I think it's what my Outlook uses for the calendar, folders, etc.

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