Most People Don’t Know What Lowercase “G” Looks Like And We’re Not Even Kidding

Unless of course you happen to be super into typography or have a hand-lettering interest, you will most likely battle to tell which of the above designs of the lowercase ‘G’ is appropriate (if you happen to be searching at this textual content, you happen to be dishonest).


Which is all right. As it turns out, most folks are in the same boat, despite owning seen this letter hundreds of thousands of periods – and this has ridiculous implications for how we consider about our ability to study and produce.

Typical thinking in psychology goes that our looking through skill is directly tied to our ability to recognise letters. Consequently a single would anticipate we have super-thorough awareness of every single solitary letter, down to each and every swirl and loop.

Enter the lowercase letter ‘g’, and this idea falls apart.

You see, there is certainly far more than a single way to print this letter, and we are not chatting about variances brought about by individual handwriting quirks.

In modern-day typography, there are two conventional techniques the lowercase ‘g’ can be shaped – both as the solitary-storey or opentail ‘g’, or the double-storey or looptail ‘g’. Here is a photograph of them equally side by side:

(Jim Hood/Wikimedia)

Now, the opentail a single won’t bring about any problems, considering that it is related to what folks who use the Latin alphabet are taught to produce in faculty.

It can be the looptail variation of this letter that freaks folks out – not only do lots of not realise there are two distinct print designs, they also locate it hard to recall which form is the appropriate a single, and most can not attract it even when they know what it ought to appear like.


These have been the results of a group of cognitive researchers from Johns Hopkins College, who examined people’s consciousness of contrasting letter designs in a series of three experiments.

In the initial a single, 38 contributors recruited from the university’s pool of learners have been questioned a series of queries about their consciousness of letters that have various designs – with stunning final results.

“Even with becoming questioned consistently, and despite becoming educated directly that G has two lowercase print sorts, virtually 50 % of the contributors unsuccessful to reveal any awareness of the looptail ‘g’, and only one of the 38 contributors was able to produce looptail ‘g’ appropriately,” the group writes in the examine.

letter g scrawlsPathetic. (Wong et al., 2018)

To comply with up on this obvious deficiency of letter awareness, the group did a 2nd experiment in which 16 new contributors experienced to study a paragraph, specially attending to all the lowercase ‘g’ appearances – printed in the looptail fashion.

At the time the textual content was taken absent, the contributors have been questioned to produce the letter ‘g’ as it appeared in the textual content they just study.

All over again, only a single managed to do so appropriately. Fifty percent of them imagined they saw the opentail variation, and a single even received sassy about it.


“One participant appeared to consider that creating opentail ‘g’ was the only conceivable reaction to the activity: When questioned to produce the G she experienced seen, she stated, ‘This is stupid’,” writes the group. Joke’s on her.

In the third experiment, the scientists made the whole point even far more uncomplicated: 44 new contributors experienced to select the appropriate form of both a looptail ‘g’, or a two-storey ‘a’.

Yep. Most of them fully chose the mistaken ‘g’:

letter g choices lineup(Wong et al., 2018)

“What we consider might be happening below is that we find out the designs of most letters in section for the reason that we have to produce them in faculty,” stated senior creator of the examine, cognitive scientist Michael McCloskey.

“Looptail ‘g’ is a thing we are by no means taught to produce, so we might not find out its form as nicely.”

According to the group, these results guidance the idea that we will not definitely find out letters down to the high-quality information, but just sufficient so we can tell them apart.

Moreover, uncovering these discrepancies displays that there is certainly even now a good deal we will not understand about how folks perceive the earth around them – even when it will come to a thing as extremely frequent as letters.


“What about kids who are just learning to study? Do they have a tiny bit far more problems with this sort of g for the reason that they have not been pressured to pay back focus to it and produce it?” stated McCloskey.

“Which is a thing we will not definitely know. Our results give us an intriguing way of searching at queries about the importance of creating for looking through.”

The examine was posted in Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Notion and General performance.

A variation of this post was initial posted in April 2018.