The Definition of a Double-Storey in Typography

Among the specialized terminology that exists in typography and that is used to describe elements of individual letterforms is the term "storey." Several letters can be described as having either a single-storey or a double-storey appearance — among them are the letters a and g.

What Is a Storey in Typography

The double-storey a is a lowercase a that consists of a closed bowl at the bottom and a stem with a finial arm at the top hanging over the bowl and creating a partially enclosed area above the bowl. 

A single-storey a is a lowercase a that consists of a rounded closed bowl and a stem but no obvious finial. It is the lowercase a most of us learned when we studied cursive writing. The ​single-storey a is also called an "upright finial a." ​​

Other Typography Terminology

  • A bowl on a letterform is also called the aperture. It is the enclosed circular portion of a character.
  • A finial is the curved tail on some letters. It is also called a terminal.
  • The stem of a character — also known as the stroke — is the main vertical line in a character.

The lowercase double-storey a has all three of these elements.

Type Trivia

In typography, one way to differentiate true italic from faux or software-slanted fonts is by looking at the letter a. The double-storey a is usually found in upright roman fonts. Even when the accompanying roman version has a double-storey a, the true italic version usually uses a single-storey a. An italicized double-storey a is a possible sign of a faux italic.

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