monospaced fontsDon’t use these either

The sys­tem fonts Courier, Menlo, and Con­so­las are ex­am­ples of mono­spaced fonts, so named be­cause every char­ac­ter is the same width. When the char­ac­ters vary in width, the font is called pro­por­tional.

Jill, did you buy the milk?
Jill, did you buy the milk?

The sam­ples above are set at the same point size. But the mono­spaced font, Trip­li­cate (first and third rows) takes up more hor­i­zon­tal space than the pro­por­tional font, Valkyrie (sec­ond and fourth rows). The dif­fer­ences are most no­tice­able in char­ac­ters that are nar­row in the pro­por­tional font (like f i j l r t) and the punc­tu­a­tion characters.

Mono­spaced fonts were in­vented to suit the me­chan­i­cal re­quire­ments of type­writ­ers. They were not in­vented to win beauty con­tests. Com­pared to pro­por­tional fonts, mono­spaced fonts are harder to read. And be­cause they take up more hor­i­zon­tal space, you’ll al­ways get fewer words per page with a mono­spaced font.

In stan­dard body text, there are no good rea­sons to use mono­spaced fonts. So don’t. Use pro­por­tional fonts.

by the way
  • Do you need mono­spaced nu­mer­als—ty­pog­ra­phers call them tab­u­lar fig­ures—so that columns of num­bers will line up? This is such a com­mon need that most pro­por­tional fonts in­clude tab­u­lar fig­ures by de­fault. See al­ter­nate fig­ures for how to ver­ify this.

  • Do you need to quote soft­ware code or HTML in your doc­u­ment? Then use a mono­spaced font for one of the rea­sons soft­ware en­gi­neers do—soft­ware code in­cludes com­pressed syn­tax like (int i=1; i<111; i++) which is more leg­i­ble when set in a mono­spaced font (int i=1; i<111; i++).

  • If you really do need a mono­spaced font, the Courier sys­tem font is one of the worst. See Courier al­ter­na­tives.

undock move Heliotrope Equity Valkyrie Century Supra Concourse Triplicate buy font close