How to find the difference between i, l, 0, O?

Unlike written documents, typed documents are easier to read because of their neatness and consistent font. However, even typed documents contain some letters that many people find confusing. The letters that are the leading cause of the confusion are capital i, small L, zero 0, and capital o.

Capital i and small L, and zero 0 and capital o look almost identical. This similarity is caused by the font that is used in most online reading materials. Though the computer reads them as different letters because a unique binary value is assigned to the letters, for the human eye, it can be challenging to differentiate between the mentioned pair of letters.

If this issue sounds familiar to you, this article will help you end this confusion once and for all. The following post explores multiple ways to differentiate between capital i vs L and zero vs. capital o.

Zero 0 vs Capital o

Zero 0 vs Capital o

Have a look at the following letters: ‘0’ and ‘O’. One of these letters is capital o, while the other is zero. It may be challenging to identify which is which, but there are some obvious visual differences between the two. Let’s explore ways you can use to identify these letters:

  • Probably, the best and most obvious method to differentiate between the two is trying to observe their placement. By looking at the sentence, you can determine which, 0 or capital o, makes more sense. This method is one of the easiest to use.

For example, take a look at the following sentence: “Binary system uses symbols 0 and 1.” The given sentence informs about the two symbols used in the binary system, which are zero and one. From this, you can conclude that the letter used here is zero.

See another example: “O is the 15th letter of the English alphabet.” This sentence is referring to the 15th letter of the alphabet, which is obviously ‘o’ and not zero.

  • It can be difficult to interpret whether it is zero or capital o by merely looking at the sentence. As said before, though the two letters look identical, there are some differences in their appearance. The (capital o) ‘O’ is circular and bigger in size, while zero (0) is thinner and smaller. This difference can be easily spotted.
  • Another method, which is one of the more extended methods, is pasting the two letters in MS Word. MS word provides plenty of font style and font size options. Using a suitable font and size, you will be able to tell both of the letters apart effortlessly. You can always refer to it while reading to avoid getting confused again.
  • Lastly, you can paste the letter on a web browser. The web browser will present some websites related to the letter. By looking at the type of content on the website, you can quickly determine the correct meaning of the letter.

Small L vs Capital i

Small L vs Capital i

Now let’s tackle the other pair of letters that is small L and capital i.

Take a look at the following: “Ill.” This might look like roman numeral three, but it is actually the word ‘ill’ but with a capital i. This example clearly depicts why people often get confused between the two letters. Both of these look completely identical and can be difficult to differentiate. However, using the following ways, this issue can be resolved:

  • The letter capital i is often seen standing on its own in sentences like: “I am reading an article.” In these types of sentences, it is clear that the word used is capital i and not small L.
  • Next, you can refer to the word or the sentence and guess which letter sounds meaningful. For instance, ‘Illustrate.’ We know that there is no such word as ‘LLLUSTRATE,’ but a word is spelled ‘illustrate.’ Hence, you can guess that the first letter is a capital i and not a small L.
  • You can also paste the sentence or just the word where confusion exists in MS word and try different fonts and sizes where the difference is more noticeable. For instance, in the font ‘pacifico,’ capital i and small L look entirely different. You can save it as a reference which you can use whenever you are reading on a device.
  • Another distinguishable feature that can help you identify which is looking at the visual difference. Capital i is vertical and straight, while the small L may be curvy, or there may be a tiny portion coming out at the end. Although, you should know that this might not be true for all the fonts. Hence, this method is not always applicable.
  • The last method is searching the letter or world where you feel stuck on a web browser. You will get websites related to your search, examining which you can quickly identify whether the letter is small L or capital i.


Getting confused between small L and capital i or zero and capital o is very common given that the pair look so similar. It can be even more difficult if an individual is new to the English language and unable to guess the letter based on the meaning of the entire sentence or just a word. We hope that our readers find this article useful and it helps them eliminate the confusion between i,l, O, and 0.

Leave a Comment