Programmer fonts, do they matter?

May be I pay attention to silly things, but some fonts are easier to read than others and if you keep writing or reading code during hours and hours, the font that you use may very well affect your productivity (just a theory Geeked [8-|], besides, far more ridiculous stuff has made it's way in the Internet). Anyways, this is a code section with the standard Visual Studio font (Courier New Size 10):

The Consolas font was created for Windows Vista but you can download and install it for Visual Studio 2005, at size 10 it looks like this:

Note how more code fits in the same region and, IMHO, it's somewhat more readable. Finally, the Anonymous font was born in the Mac but you can download it free for Windows. The same code section in a smaller size (9 point) looks like this:

Before Consolas debut, Anonymous was the one that I used. There are many fonts for programmers available (free, expensive, nice, silly, ...) What do you think? What font do you prefer for code? Does it even matter?

Published Friday, June 2, 2006 4:31 PM by Edgar Sánchez

Comments

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, June 2, 2006 5:18 PM by Rachit
Consolas looks ok but it's very slow in rendering at least on vs.net 2005. Does anybody else see the same behavior? I'll give Anonymous a try!

Thx.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, June 2, 2006 5:23 PM by Ryan Hoffman
Consolas is my default font, and it looks great when ClearType is turned on.  However, via RDP (where there is no ClearType), it looks absolutely horrible.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, June 2, 2006 5:48 PM by foobar
Cool, thanks for the link.

Rachit:  I just installed it and it seems to render just fine.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, June 2, 2006 8:09 PM by Marc
Hi Edgar,

here's a suggestion: switch to 8pt Verdana and create a screenshot of the code shown above for comparison.

I really don't understand why people are still using monospaced fonts.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, June 2, 2006 9:47 PM by Sahil Malik
Hey dude, how do you do those tear out screenshots?

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, June 3, 2006 12:30 AM by Edgar Sánchez
SnagIt, Sahil, from http://www.techsmith.com

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, June 3, 2006 4:58 AM by FransBouma
I like the Anonymous font in your screenshot, I'll download it right away! I use lucida console 8pt on vs.net 2005 (with 2 20" tft screens 1600x1200) though its still not pleasant in cleartype. Consolas is great too, use that in vs.net 2003 (as lucida gives problems in vs.net 2003 as it's a semi-proportional font and the C# editor has a bug with carot placement in that situation).

I think a font should allow as much lines of code on the screen as possible. Lucida does that and I see anonymous does too (though have to try it out myself of course). Thanks for the tip!

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, June 3, 2006 5:00 AM by FransBouma
I now see anonymous has the line in the 0 backwards. Must be a mac-thingy ;)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, June 3, 2006 5:13 AM by FransBouma
Hmm. I've installed anonymous, but with 8pt, the # of lines displayed compared to lucida 8pt is much lower. When I switch to 7pt anonymous, it's not readable. Oh well..

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, June 3, 2006 12:42 PM by Samoby LIms
EXCALIBUR MONO is the font for programmers and it can be download free also.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Sunday, June 4, 2006 12:44 PM by Scott Galloway
I agree with Marc, I've used Verdana for a fair few years now and I've always found it to be the most readable font for coding...never really seen the point in monospaced, always found them harder to read and less compact in layout...

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 10:29 AM by Cecil
dunno where I got it, but Andale Mono is the one I prefer.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 10:51 AM by Carsten Thomsen
This is not a silly matter at all; a font that suits the programmer is right up there with IDE colors with which a developer feels comfortable. It's obviously a matter of preference, but setting up the IDE in which you work correctly, will IMHO definately result in a productivity gain.

I love the new Consolas font; just downloaded and installed it. :-)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 11:23 AM by Jon Choy
Verdana doesn't have a suitable level of differentiation between rn and m, which is a deal breaker. Back to Anonymous I go... (I found that Consolas doesn't look to hot with cleartype on my 2405fpw...)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 7:33 PM by Diego Vega
I have been using Consolas for a time and I am pretty happy with it. However, in the past I have used proportional fonts (especially Tahoma) in the IDE and the experience was surprisingly excellent. Only when other programmers see my screen over my shoulder, proportinal fonts tend to make them smile :)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Thursday, June 22, 2006 2:46 PM by Eric D. Burdo
I started using Consolas about 4 months ago.  I now use it for all my fixed-width font work (which is pretty much VS 2003, 2005 and occasionally Notepad).

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006 10:50 PM by Bryan Peters

I second ProFont.  I've been using it for a few years and haven't found anything better at 9pt.  (it only comes in 9pt)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Thursday, June 29, 2006 9:23 AM by Paul Jaime

I tried and like Consolas but I cannot get use to it. Lucida Console 10 1280x1024 with ClearType does the job. I have to set other text editors to Consolas and see if I can train my eyes.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Monday, July 14, 2008 2:18 AM by Glenn

ProFont vs Proggy

--------------------

Profont has better overall chunk/paragraph readability (due to the condensed nature of the font). In terms of overall readability of a programming code struture, Profont wins.

Proggy has better individual character readability (due to the larger and wider character nature of the font). In terms of individual character clarity, Proggy wins.

ProFont, partly due to its tiny size, would lack distinctness in certain individual characters. Proggy has better distinction, as mentioend above.

Profont is great for people that love tiny and condensed fonts.

Proggy has a larger font-base which may be better for a wider array of audiences.

Both fonts are equally crisp. For some, Proggy can be a pain in the eyes. For some, it works better than Profont, which can be a real pain once you get tired of ProFont's notoriously tiny & condensed fonts.

When comparing Profont's Tiny vs Proggy's Tiny, reading Proggy's Tiny would take some time getting used to compared to Profont, but the larger (not-so-condensed) font-base (whether Tiny  or normal) is an advantage over ProFont, especially when you're tired. The other options for Proggy like Bold Punctuation, does prove interesting at times, though they can make your code structure messy.

All Proggy's Tiny's are oddly very widely-spaced and feels a bit strange, so there's more horizontal scrolling here. Proggy at times doesn't seem to really have consistent spacing between its characters, compared to ProFont.

Proggy's "www" and other characters do touch one another a bit.

Somehow, using ProFont makes your code appear very nice, clean, organised and structured. But yes, it does so at a price of having a much more condensed and tiner (but readable) font. So, when it comes to individual character readaibility and distintiveness as such, it won't come across as easy as what one would normally expect with the "bigger fonts out there". This is expected from a font that is "condensed, in order to be readable".

In short, ProFont still wins.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Monday, July 14, 2008 2:22 AM by Glenn

Consolas with ClearType is great. But I find it better for HTML/XML editing rather than programming, strangely. Somehow, bigger fonts for copying+pastig is sometimes necessary, and Profont doesn't fit that bill, though it's still usable. Consolas is attractive though, but when placed in a programming structure, it doesn't look as nice as it should. It looks great in HTML i must say...

ClearType does make ProFont not appear so crisp either. In short, it's either one or the other.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Monday, July 14, 2008 2:46 AM by Glenn

....In short... Consolas looks GRREAT on Dreamweaver with ClearType on. Unforunately, I've NEVER liked using Split View in Dreamweaver (or any IDE) for that matter, unless the coding fonts aren't too big and aren't too intrusive.

In fact, I feel confident using SplitView with ProFont, since the smaller font-base really makes it non-intrusvive. So, though Consolas can looks better and more readable on Dreamweavever, on the whole it's rather pointless unless I *really* need a larger font.

Somehow, ProFont has a nasty habit of making even the "messiest" code structure appear neat. Maybe it's the clever choice of character sizes, spacing and the overall condensed nature of it.  Sure, individual character readability does suffer at that price, but only slightly.

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Saturday, April 2, 2011 8:03 PM by weblogs.asp.net

Programmer fonts_2C00_ do they matter_3F00_.. Huh, really? :)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Friday, April 29, 2011 4:08 AM by weblogs.asp.net

Programmer fonts_2C00_ do they matter_3F00_.. I like it :)

# re: Programmer fonts, do they matter?

Sunday, June 12, 2011 5:02 AM by weblogs.asp.net

Programmer fonts_2C00_ do they matter_3F00_.. Bully :)