I was wondering if shearing/skewing text is acceptable?

Obviously stretching text is bad and frowned upon, but is shearing text okay or is it considered the same as stretching it?

I have a few words I'd like to shear, but if it's considered "bastardizing", I won't do it.

  • 1
    What font? For a certain class of strictly geometric sans serif fonts, it has been 'the usual way' to create italics. But it does not work well for a humanist sans, and (apart from certain mathematical uses) it is Not Done for a serif font. Also, what script? In Cyrillic, for example, certain characters have a very distinctly different shape in their italic form.
    – Jongware
    Commented Mar 4, 2016 at 23:11
  • @RadLexus that sounds like an answer to me :)
    – Cai
    Commented Mar 5, 2016 at 22:05
  • @RadLexus I agree. Please avoid answering questions in the comments. Thanks!
    – Vincent
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 13:46

2 Answers 2


In general, no. If there is an italic version of the font available, using that obviously has preference.

There are lots of fonts without an italic version, though. Especially (cheap) display fonts usually are a single style. I'd say you can shear those as you want.

I guess the point where shearing becomes bastardising is when you can easily see that the original font was upright. Classic Serif fonts are a good example, because their italic letterforms differ so greatly from their romans. Think about the difference between a and a, for example.

  • 1
    Just to add to Vincent's answer - this is for readability. If you're shearing it just for some sort of design like on a poster than you can do whatever you want. But yeah if you're doing it as a "poor mans" Italic, try not to.
    – Ryan
    Commented May 26, 2016 at 14:31

What you're referring to is often called an oblique font, rather than an italic. An italic is a completely redrawn font that compliments the roman font. Historically, they were often VERY different from the roman, but modern italic are visually part of the same family.

Oblique fonts are essentially sheared romans. Older sans serifs used this approach. As you can see below, Helvetica Oblique and a sheared version of Helvetica Regular are visually identical.

Helvetica Oblique vs sheared

However, be careful assuming ALL sans serifs have obliques rather than italics. Take a look at Myriad: its italic is custom drawn. The "s" is slightly different, and there's no way you'd get that nice "b" and "q" with a simple oblique.

Myriad Oblique vs sheared

All that to say, there are SOME typefaces you could modify like this. I myself have hesitantly have made an oblique Frutiger Condensed because no one has drawn one yet, to my knowledge. But proceed with caution!

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