The Five Types of “Q” Tails

If you read this blog then you probably know about serif and san-serif fonts, how to tell the difference. But did you know there are several unique types of tails found on the letter Q?

The Book of Joe blog brought my attention to this fascinating quirk of the English language. It seems font experts have identified at least 5 different ways to add the tail to a letter Q:


In case you were wondering, the fonts in the top row are Helvetica, Verdana, Quitador Medium, Brush Script, and Axiom. The bottom row consists of Computer Modern Unicode Serif, Libre Bodoni, Cochin, Questa, and Barbara Svelte. (I mention this because I know I am not the only one who is going to gooogle the fonts to see what the Qs look like in context.)

According to Wikipedia, the “Meets” tail is the most commonly found tail, with over half of all Q’s found in fonts today have that type of tail. The next most common is the “Bisects” tail, which accounts for a third of known examples.

And there could in fact be more examples lost to time.  In the pre-digital era it was not uncommon for a font to include a couple different Qs, one with a long tail and another with a short tail. So it would not be impossible for a font to have two types of tails as well.


Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

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