Source Sans Pro Italic A

over 6 years ago from , Product Designer at SalesLoft

So, I love Source Sans Pro. It's one of my new favorite fonts, but has anyone else noticed that the regular and italic A forms are completely different?

Is that intentional?



  • Daniel EdenDaniel Eden, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    That’s completely normal and intentional design. The vast majority of italic typefaces have different forms for many letters than the roman counterparts, most commonly the lowercase a, g, and f.

    Here’s Leitura News, Source Sans Pro, Calendas Plus, and Proxima Nova to demonstrate.

    Edit: looks like even Whitney—used here on Designer News—has alternate forms for italics.

    17 points
  • Ege GörgülüEge Görgülü, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Actually, Source Sans Pro comes with both alternatives. The alternate glyphs exists for both italic and normal. You can easily enable it in illustrator from opentype features > stylistic alternates.

    For why it exists, especially in the form of lowercase a: If I'm not mistaken, double-decker a's render horribly in older very low res screens hence the need for a cleaner glyph but that aside I think it would be safe to say that using a double decker at very small sizes or a tighter tracking would hinder legibility in general.

    4 points
  • Caleb SylvestCaleb Sylvest, over 6 years ago

    Do you mean the capital "A" or lowercase "a"?

    Note that there are two types of lowercase "a" glyphs, one is the typical circle with a stem that you most likely write, the other is the double-story, or double-decker style, that many typefaces use (including Source Sans). When a typeface is italicized the proper method for double-story "a" characters to use the single-story circle method.

    If you ever see an italicized double-story "a" then you know it is a fake italic, or faux-italic, and is something you should really avoid. Most people won't notice or care, but people who care about typography will.

    Check out this for a little more info: http://desktoppub.about.com/cs/typeanatomy/g/double_a.htm

    3 points
  • Alec MolloyAlec Molloy, over 6 years ago

    Italic fonts in a typeface family take a more handwritten-like approach to the letter forms. Characters such as the a, which is typically double-storied are changed to look like their written figures. More on this here:


    0 points
  • Eric HuEric Hu, over 6 years ago

    Actually, here's the thing:

    From a traditionally technical standpoint, if your typeface italics is just a slanted version of your regular weight, it's not italics but a "slant" or "oblique" weight,

    and it's considered italics when the characters are different like in Source Sans.

    I mean, that definition isn't adhered to rigidly these days, we often just refer to all slanted weights as italics.

    If you want to read more on it: http://www.creativepro.com/article/typetalk-italic-vs-oblique

    0 points
  • Josh Sanders, over 6 years ago

    usually when a typeface contains a "2-story" a, the italicized font is a '1-story' letterform to improve readability and legibility. These things are (usually) very intentional, though-out, and done for good reason. Good eye though! SSP is also one my my current favorites for web AND print :)

    0 points
  • Eric Foster, over 6 years ago (edited over 6 years ago )

    Yeah. Quite common, actually. Two-storey a's look weird when skewed.

    For instance, Officina Sans: http://www.fonts.com/font/itc/itc-officina-sans/book-italic

    0 points