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The picture below summarizes it pretty well: letter "k" looks very different in the upright vs. italic form of font Consolas. What is the rationale, design choice, ... behind such a strikingly different letterform for italics?

For the other differences, like the additional bottom stroke for "f", and the different letterform for "a", I have seen (and read about) in other fonts.

Consolas, normal & italics

lowercase alphabet in font Consolas, both upright and italics. letter "k" is highlighted in the italic version

So in a nutshell: is there a precedent in other (e.g. traditional) font or font design theory behind this variation in letter "k"?

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    Yes, italics often have alternate forms of letters. Many many foints exhibit this feature. Iths not really a special k it is just a cursive k, often italics have more cursive like characters (because they were originally cursive). – joojaa Feb 5 at 17:57
  • @joojaa: thanks for that comment; just the word cursive was enough for me to find the connection between italics and cursive script. So, I would be happy to accept that as an answer. – ojdo Feb 6 at 10:40
  • My brain always feels that such roman "g" look "wrong" while the shape of the italic "g" looks more "right". If you really know documentation where the rationales of such deeply traditional/historic "design choices" are explained, then please share some links. Good subject, even if not fixing any specific project (unless you are cooking up your own typeface...). – Martin Zaske Feb 8 at 22:47
  • not to mention the f looking like a long s – Yeet Jun 16 at 21:58
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    Your version of Consolas is outdated. It looks like you're using Microsoft Consolas. The latest version of Consolas, Consolas 9.0, uses oblique italics: typedesign.netlify.com/consolas.html – Piotr Grochowski Aug 19 at 4:40
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The characters in your question (k, f, a, and e) are all of the usual suspects when it comes to italicizing a roman typeface. While not all fonts conform to these modifications in their italicized incarnation, these are in fact very traditional transformations and do indeed have precedent. Here are some examples of the various transformations a roman typeface might undergo in a traditional conversion to italic:

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A "round" or one-storey a


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An e whose bowl is curved rather than pointed


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An f with a tail (known as a descender)


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A k with a looped bowl, a k with a ball terminal


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A p with an intersection at the stem (ascender)


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A v and w with swashes and curved bottoms


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A z with the stress on the horizontal strokes as opposed to the diagonal vertical one


It's important to note that none of these are required to design the italic version of a typeface. As you can see from the previous examples, Consolas does not employ all of the tradition italic character styling but it does has a couple of other classic modifications that are worth mentioning:

  • Double-loop g replaced by single-loop version.
  • Bracketed serifs replaced with hooked serifs (i, j, and l)

Some examples of classic italic modifications:
Garamond
Bodoni
Perpetua

Source: Italic Type - Wikipedia

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