The width of the narrow letters ‘l’, ‘j’ and ‘t’
Our research indicates that at great reading distances, narrow letters mainly will benefit from designs that are slightly wider.

Based on a study of different variations of the letter shapes tested within the same typefaces, we recommend wide versions of the narrow letter group. Presented individually, the letters ‘l’, ‘j’, and ‘t’ all showed versions that performed better than their narrower forms.

However, making the letters too wide risks an increase in misreadings for a new group of letters. One example is the letter ‘t’. If it is too wide, it can be misread as a ‘c’, while the narrow version tends to be misread as ´l’ or ‘i’.

Also, applying the broad variations of ‘j’ and ‘l’ in a typeface may result in spacing problems: ‘j’ will overlap with descending characters to the left, an issue causing potential problems in the Scandinavian languages, which have a high number of ‘gj’ letter combinations. And a wide ‘l’ would create a disrupting area of extra white space when placed to the left of another stem.

For more see:
Beier, S. & Larson, K. (2010) ‘Design Improvements for Frequently Misrecognized Letters’, Information Design Journal, 18(2), 118-137.

Other research findings


Centre for Visibility Design
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts,
Schools of Architecture, Design and Conservation
School of Design

Philip de Langes Allé 10

1435 København K

M +45 41 70 18 83
E sbe@kadk.dk
W kadk.dk