53

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.

7
  • 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. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 9:57
  • 8
    @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. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 10:16
  • Many sans serif fonts have tilted lower part of lower case l, e.g. Canatrell. Commented Dec 29, 2011 at 14:00
  • Relevant: google.com/search?q=sans+serif+font+distinguishable+l+I
    – Andreas
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 20:36
  • 1
    See the new Verano Sans.
    – Thérèse
    Commented Jun 6, 2019 at 0:29

11 Answers 11

24

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

enter image description here

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\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
\begin{document}
Kim Jong Il
\end{document}
1
  • 36
    Not sure I would call this sans-serif. Maybe peu de serif.
    – Andreas
    Commented Dec 12, 2012 at 20:36
39
+50

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

\documentclass[12pt]{article}

\usepackage[T1]{fontenc}
\usepackage[english]{babel}
\usepackage{lmodern}

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

\setlength{\parindent}{0pt}
\linespread{1.5}

\begin{document}

\testfont{Cabin}{Cabin-TLF}

\testfont{Cantarell}{fca}

\testfont{Comfortaa}{fco}

\testfont{Iwona}{iwona}

\testfont{Kp-Sans}{jkpss}

\testfont{PT-Sans}{PTSans-TLF}

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

\testfont{Tahoma}{tahoma}

\testfont{MS Trebuchet}{trebuchet}% I mixed up the name, it should have been "Trebuchet MS".

\testfont{Verdana}{verdana}

\end{document}

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

1
  • 6
    Looks like there are two clear ways to disambiguate uppercase-i and lowercase-L: add something "horizontal" at both ends of the uppercase-i (as in Tahoma and Verdana above), or add something at the bottom-right of the lowercase-L. Surprising to find that a font that does both seems so hard to find. IMO a font aiming for clarity should never have just a simple vertical bar, for either of the two letters. Commented Jan 21, 2020 at 2:37
12

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.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{fontspec}
\setmainfont{IBMPlexSans-Regular.otf}
\begin{document}
Kim Jong Il
\end{document}

output

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

Another typeface for readers with low vision is the free Atkinson Hyperlegible, from the Braille Institute:

Atkinson Hyperlegible

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

9

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

1
  • 1
    Yes, I’ve forgotten (but I wrote “examples”).
    – Speravir
    Commented Dec 13, 2012 at 16:33
9

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.

\documentclass{article}
\usepackage{raleway}
\begin{document}
\sffamily
W. H. Gates III. | Ill Bill
\end{document}

enter image description here

5

A true sans-serif font might opt to add a finial to the lower case L, such as
http://www.fonts101.com/search/din+mittel

DIN 1451 Mittelschrift example

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

1
4

My opinion is that the crossbars on capital I are not serifs, but are part of the glyph, in the same way that the crossbar on a capital T cannot be removed.

Many Serif fonts add serifs to the crossbars on a capital I to match the serifs on the crossbar on the capital T; those decorations are serifs, and should be removed in a sans-serif font, but not the crossbars themselves.

Meanwhile, adding the little tail to the bottom of a lower case l is a serif.

So, when a sans-serif font differentiates I from l by adding a serif to the l but leaves out the crossbars on the I, they're doing both letters wrong.

Basically, Tahoma and Verdana are correct fully sans-serif fonts; Helvetica is wrong, and Trebuchet is very wrong.

3
  • I agree with everything in the first two paragraphs, and I WOULD agree with the rest if either of the following were true: 1. It were common for serif fonts to add a serif on the bottom of lowercase L that only extends to the right, or 2. the 'tail' at the bottom of lowercase 'L' in these sans serif fonts were either tapered at the tip, or pushed out from the base shape (leaving the bottom of the lowercase 'L' the shape it would be, but with an additional feature tacked on top). However, no Serif font I know of is like that, and sans serif fonts with this actually bend the original shape.
    – Tynach
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 16:48
  • The 'bending the shape' bit is particularly noteworthy, because a serif is an addition to a shape that can be removed, but that's not how these lowercase 'L's are designed. They're instead designed to curve slightly forward at the bottom, with the glyph staying a more or less constant width. As another argument, consider that you don't call the 'tail' of the Capital 'L' a 'serif', even if it Does 'jut out' as an extra shape tacked on. I consider these sans serif fonts to at most just be shortening the longer tail of the capital 'L', and then rounding corner made at the bend a little bit.
    – Tynach
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 16:54
  • Actually, I just checked a bunch of serif fonts, and none of the ones I looked at add additional serifs to the cross-bars of the capital 'i'.. But I did finally find one that added a hook on the right side only of the lowercase 'L': "URW Chancery L" and its derivative "TeX Gyre Chorus". Also some of the italic variations of various Serif fonts, and thus likewise with the 'upright italic' variations of a few of those (when present). Since even Chancery is somewhat slanted by default, it's safe to say none that aren't slanted or 'upright italic' are normally like this.
    – Tynach
    Commented Sep 20, 2022 at 19:00
3

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.

3

Noto Sans has uppercase i with crossbars. Noto Sans is an open font created by Google. See:

enter image description here

It is worth adding that I wrote a post entitled: Sans-serif fonts that show uppercase "i" with crossbars to distinguish it from lowercase "l".

0
2

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

1

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.

1

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