Difference in glyphs of I and l

In many fonts I come across, I see that the glyph uppercase i – I is same as lowercase l.

Why is it so? Why don’t font designers add a differentiating factor between the two glyphs?

This specially creates a problem with the word ‘Ill’. Whether to read it roman 3 or short for ‘I will’.


I am asking this because I am making a font, so I want to know if I should stick to this standard design, or use different glyphs for the two…
Also, see my last question on fonts as well.

P.S. I don’t know if this should goto SuperUser, but I can’t post questions there.


Many modern fonts to address this problem. Take Adobe’s Source Sans Pro and the example they give:

Source Sans screenshot

This shows you how people will differentiate the characters (1, I, and l) that tend to be confused. Just before that image in the article, the author noted:

For usages where this level of distinction is not required, there is an alternate, simple lowercase l (without the tail) accessible via stylistic alternates or by applying a stylistic set.

So you can do both approaches in your font if you’d like!

I don’t really have a good answer as to “why is it so” in the first place, though. Typefaces reflect, to a certain extent, either the conventions of handwriting or the conventions of fonts that came before them. Sans-serif developed after serif fonts. So, if you can picture taking your typical serif’s I, l, and 1

I, l, and 1 in Times New Roman

and removing the serifs, and you get straight lines. That’s not a scientifically researched answer, but it’s a plausible one to me.

Source : Link , Question Author : user3459110 , Answer Author : Brendan

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