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Why is Z the only letter like this?


dstebbins
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Some people will draw a horizontal line through their Z's so they don't get confused with the number 2. Indeed, it is very easy for someone who is writing fast to write their Z's and their 2's identically. The only difference between the letter Z and the number 2 is that a 2 is supposed to have a loop at its top, wile a Z is supposed have a sharp zig-zag. So, when you're trying to write fast, some people - simply out of muscle memory - will draw a horizontal line through thier Z so it looks completely different form a two.

 

But for some reason, Z is the only letter like that!

 

There are plenty of other letters that can look like numbers, or even other letters, if you're not careful. It's very, very easy to draw a Y that looks like a 4, an O that looks like a zero, an "n" that looks like a 6, or a lower-case A that looks like a lower-case D (or even a capital O that looks like a Capital D, if you're not careful). Heck, the lower-case P and Q are just backwards forms of each other!

 

So, Z is NOT the only letter that is susceptible to this problem. But it IS the only letter that has such a universally-accepted solution.

 

Why?

Edited by dstebbins
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In Japan, people often put a dash through the upright of a D to avoid it being confused for an O (the letter, not the number).

 

The habit of putting a line through a Z might have originated when we also had the letter yogh which looked a bit like a Z. So much so that there are a number of names, such as Menzies (pronounced Mengies), where the Z replaced yogh.

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1, l (<- lower-case 'L') and I (<- upper-case 'i') get confused sometimes. I don't recall ever seeing a bar or a slash here, unless it actually had some further meaning.

Edited by ajb
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This is why I think all technical documents should use serif fonts. Unfortunately, this is overruled by marketing who want the documents to look "modern".

 

I wish people would stop confusing modern and better. They really don't even look the same.

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I always loop the '2' at the bottom, and thought that was standard - it doesn't look much like a Z, that way.

 

Another tip, acquired in adulthood for recording fleet mileage in forms, is to make the '8' from two stacked circles, as if drawing a snowman, rather than an interlocked one stroke "figure 8" that often ends up looking like a 9 or even a 4.

 

I'm not a fan of adding marks, like slashes - they seem to create more opportunities for illegible misstroke than they cure - but the addition of a stroke on the vertical to distinguish the D from the 0 is a new one that seems worth trying.

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