I would like to replace the "a" (double-story minuscule) for the single-story minuscule in Latin Modern. I really hate that the printed "a" is not the same as the handwritten "a", and would like to uniformly replace it in LaTeX. Is that possible, if so how? Is there an alternative version for the glyph "a" in Latin Modern? If so, how do I access it?

If not, are there other fonts where such a replacement is possible, and which contains the appropriate symbols to create mathematics?

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    @CountZero The distinction is not made in all fonts and there is nothing wrong with asking for this sort of fine-grained control in the domains of fonts and typesetting. Double-story a is special because it is literally the only letter that's commonly printed in a way in which it is nearly never handwritten. Finally, the argument for readability is entirely independent of LaTeX (Word and any other textprocessor also just pick whatever the font has at this codepoint), and LaTeX glorification is out of place right here, because it is irrelevant and not helpful. Jul 30, 2012 at 19:34
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    @CountZero Finally, there are a hundred improvements and adaptations one could make to the letter shapes of the modern Latin alphabet, but noone does: the two a-shapes exist just for historical reasons, with the distinction being maintained out of tradition and convenience (and lack of distinct harm in not doing so). However defending a distinction for the letter "a" in particular would in a consistent worldview also entail the need for making lots of other changes to our letter design. Jul 30, 2012 at 19:36
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    @ltcomdata Not all fonts offer both glyphs by design (and that this is regarded a design choice is an arbitrary cultural convention), though some do. Fonts that cover the IPA definitely do. That said, how to access those symbols is something I'll let someone more knowledgeable in that area answer. One more thing: The one-story-a might look unusual to the eye in certain contexts and people, but the only reason is that we're so used to always seeing double-story-a in the non-italicized (upright) style. Someone else can elaborate on the practical serif/sans-serif distinction here. Jul 30, 2012 at 19:41
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    @user14996 -- while i don't disagree that there's nothing wrong with asking for alternate shapes for some letters in a font, the latin modern fonts are intended to be "a successor" to the original tex computer modern fonts. (see this article regarding the history of the lm fonts.) thus, such changes are not likely to be made, as this would violate the original intention of their creation. one other small point ... double-story (roman) g is also usually printed in a different shape than handwritten; a is not alone. Jul 30, 2012 at 20:59
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    There are not too many serif fonts with single-story minuscule a in the roman that are suitable for body text. I can only think of Bembo Schoolbook, LuMarc, Stone Informal. There's plenty (including lmodern) where the italic a is single-story. And of course very many sans-serifs but these are not-traditional for mathematics. If none of these suit your needs, feel free to design your own lmodern variant complete with alternate a.
    – Lev Bishop
    Jul 31, 2012 at 2:40

1 Answer 1


This is maybe only a point into a possible solution, but I had a similar problem where I wanted to change the font for just two characters. I used XeTeX and \XeTeXinterchartokenstate etc.. Here is my post about it "changing font of one (or a small number of) text character only" and you could consult other posts here or the XeTeX manual (I am in no way trumpeting myself here) for better guidance. I believe it should be possible to modify that to do the same as what you want (you would have to substitute \JapSubstFont with some appropriate code, something that would replace bad-a with good-a.

% "0065 is unicode for the letter e  use the code for the letter a, etc

\XeTeXinterchartoks 0 \JapSubst = {\begingroup\JapSubstFont} 
\XeTeXinterchartoks 255 \JapSubst = {\begingroup\JapSubstFont} 
\XeTeXinterchartoks \JapSubst 0 = {\endgroup} 
\XeTeXinterchartoks \JapSubst 255 = {\endgroup} 

PS I heartily agree that this is not an inappropriate question, and IMHO latex still has a way to go in terms of providing practical mechanisms for this. The philosophy of "let us do the typographical thinking for you, you just bang out content" has become a little quaint/strained as TeX has matured ;-)

(and something for the meta: why no smileys? Makes it seem like we have no S-o'-H...all work and no joy makes TeX a dull toy. No snarkiness intended--TeX is the CaT's whiskers, AfAiAc (tip a canoe and TeXSE, too!))

PS I just realized this may not have been your question. You weren't asking about how to do it, but looking for appropriate fonts, it seems. Sorry...

  • As to your meta question, bad news, check this out: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/636/…
    – Count Zero
    Jul 31, 2012 at 11:21
  • I see...well I agree with what appears to be the preponderant feeling there, that images are distracting, but text smileys seem to be ok with people there, so I guess that's not so bad. When in Rome, ....thanks for the edit, btw
    – asllearner
    Aug 1, 2012 at 2:06
  • Note that the word boundary class currently has the number 4095 (since 2016) instead of 255.
    – Marijn
    Mar 10 at 22:01

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