As you know there are two forms of lowercase letter A: 'a' and 'ɑ'. I am writing a linguistics article and use IPA where the two characters denote different things. There are cases where I want to type an italic 'a' but the italic form of this letter (at least in my Latex) looks like an italic 'ɑ'. Is there a way type a proper italic 'a'? I'm using Xelatex (I'm willing to switch if necessary). Is there maybe a font that can handle the issue?

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    This is the proper italic 'a' according to the designer of the font. You could use slanted/oblique \textsl instead of italics, which preserves the general shape of the letters. Or you could look for a font that does not change to the 'Latin alpha' shape in italics (some sans serif fonts don't, most serif fonts with true italics that I just checked do change the shape of the 'a'). – moewe Feb 22 '20 at 7:04
  • (As a side note: Maybe the sans serif fonts I looked at could be described as not having true italics, but only slanted italics, so that's that.) Possibly interesting graphicdesign.stackexchange.com/q/104048, github.com/IBM/plex/issues/115. For IPA in TeX tex.stackexchange.com/q/36542/35864 (mostly for the link). – moewe Feb 22 '20 at 7:23
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    IPA is for phonetic and phonemic transcriptions, and such transcriptions should never be set in italics. – Sverre Feb 22 '20 at 14:37
  • Well I simplified the problem to get to the solution. In reality I'm not using IPA exactly. I'm just borrowing the particular IPA symbols 'a' and 'ɑ' in a non-IPA context, and I need to italicize them. – Roozbehan Feb 23 '20 at 16:57
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    Does this answer your question? Fonts, italics and IPA 'a' characters – hftf Apr 3 at 12:19

You could switch to a font that is made for this use case, e.g. Charis SIL. It has wide Unicode support including IPA and it has a stylistic style set for switching to a two-story italic a. Example:


\setmainfont{Charis SIL}[StylisticSet=5]

aáäå \textit{aáäå}

[ʃ ʒ] [ɕ ʑ] [ʂ ʐ]


enter image description here


Build your own.

The IPA Extensions Unicode block has ɐɑ in it (U+0250 and U+0251).

Turning ɐ upside-down (that old trick!) will do it.

You need a font with IPA Extensions, and the \rotatebox command from the graphicx package.

Two a s



\setmainfont{Noto Serif}%Charis SIL}[StylisticSet=5]


ɐ \& ɑ

xxx \rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{ɐ} \rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{\textit{ɐ}} xxx
 ɑ \textit{ɑ}

 aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą

\textit{aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą} 

\textsl{aáäå ɐɑɒɓ ȁȃꜳꬰꬱḁāăą}

[ʃ ʒ] [ɕ ʑ] [ʂ ʐ]

For ease of use, you can define a shortcut macro \newcommand\dsitalica{\rotatebox[origin=c]{180}{\textit{ɐ}}}, or similar (depending on where you want to put the font commands).


There are international symbols (characters) for phonetics. Check e.g. the "The Comprehensive LaTeX Symbol List" on CTAN. You'd probably need to get/install/configure special fonts for this.

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