a companion discussion area for blog.codinghorror.com

Revisiting Programming Fonts


I believe the particular application affects the choice of font. Some older applications, Programmers File Editor for example, just dont render text right with an OpenType font. A bitmap font, however, works great. PFE uses its own edit control; that probably factors into the display ugliness.

Another factor in choosing a font is if the application is a GUIish console one, especially using line graphic characters. You’re pretty much stuck using a font like Terminal in that case.


I use Courier New 10pt and it rocks.


You’re all wrong… “Courier” - not “Courier New” rocks.
crips, clear, and an good number of lines fit on screen (it has less inter-line spacing)


Fascinating. I don’t have a big stake in this, but I did notice that in the examples Consolas loops pretty good as well as having nice weight while keeping characters cleanly separated.

One factor concerning Courier New, what I mainly use now for code snippets in documentation as well as when viewing code in editors, Notepad, etc., is that it is a serif font, and the others are all sans serif. I think this has an influence on acceptability for different people depending on their comfort with serif and sans serif. (Just speculating).

I can understand why monospace is used though. I work without tabs (and tabs are expanded to spaces on entry) so that the ASCII “art” of code layout is preserved, along with nice arrangements of two-dimensional material in comments.

I am extremely accustomed to Courier New (and face=“monospace” in web presentation of code-like material). I am not sure I can change to consolas in published “code” but I am willing to try it in my editor to see if it eases things for me.


Fixedsys +1
White on Black +1 – I actually prefer Light Grey on Black, less eyestrain.

Consolas is a nice looking font, for sure, but some of the characters are a little too alike : l and 1 for example. The c isn’t rounded the same top and bottom; the += isn’t lined up properly and - is too short (something Monaco gets right). Those sorts of issues wouldn’t drive me as nuts as Jeff’s chosen colour scheme though o_O Do you suffer from ADHD or something? :smiley:


Inconsolata has no hinting hence the blurring as it lands whever it likes. The others tend to fit into whole pixels vertically.

Inconsolata is very nice at larger sizes however needs bold/italic variants.

Those people suggesting Dina/Proggy etc. are totally missing the point here which is to talk about scalable fonts which utilise ClearType. Check Jeff’s previous posts for bitmapped pixel font recommendations.

If you like your fonts sharp but enjoy ClearType definitely try Envy Code R at 10 point. It’s like a pixel font but with smooth corners and diagonals. As a bonus it includes an italic-as-bold variant to let you have italics within Visual Studio.



By the way, Monaco was designed by icon icon Susan Kare, IIUC.


Like James Ellis (@03:38 PM) I use DejaVu Sans Mono. Bitstream Vera, with better Unicode coverage.


This Consolas font is great!
But looks good only with ClearType turned on.

What kind of colours or themes are you people using in Visual Studio?




Posted by Andrew R: “I still use CRTs at home for the simple reason that no LCD can match the mighty Trinitron’s dotpitch.”

Isn’t that advantage gone after a year or so with the degradation of the screen?


A personal preference, but the font renderer used looks like a pretty poor one compared to OSXes. Also, it’s difficult to judge the differences in the typeface when distracted by the (unsightly) choice of colors.


When you add fonts to your Windows system, they generally show up for all applications—except Command Prompt (cmd.exe). I found it was non-trivial to get most fonts working there. I ended up hacking some metadata in sheldon4.fon to make it work. If anyone is interested, I’ve put it up my version at


Just drop it into it into WINDOWS\Fonts and then you should see a second 7x12 entry for Raster Fonts in the CommandPrompt properties called SheldonCmd.


Does anyone else have problems with ClearType on rotated displays? At 90 degrees the RGB subpixels are arranged vertically and no setting looks good (IMHO).


I can’t believe no one said


I really like that and Dina.

I have used Consolas and liked it as well. The only problem with most programming fonts is that the sizes are generally fixed to 8 or 10.


Greg Bowers,

"LCDs are ONLY clear at their native resolutions."
Well, yes, that’s my point. What about CRTs?

“Anyway, I couldn’t use my 21” Trinitron at higher than 1280x960."
So your eyes were the limiting factor?
In other words; the device achieved the precision you desired.

"I really can’t accept that any electron-gun device can be more precise than a reasonable quality LCD."
It doesn’t take much deep thought to realise that the reverse must be true;

  • An electron gun’s precision is dependant on the incorporeal nature of magnetic lines of force - a thing which has only the Planck length as it’s natural barrier to absolute precision - and the optical convertor could be as small as 1 molecule with no physical connections.
  • An LCD’s precision is limited by the mechanical size that workable (say 10^15 molecules per) liquid crystals can be arranged in helical patterns and the wiring needed to electrically address each of them.
    In other words; A CRT-esque system is theoretically capable of a few hundred billion times the precision of LCDs.
    The capitalistic nature of our encomony though has prevented the making of decent screens (of either type) - apparently our eyes aren’t worth it and our wallets voted for cheaper, smaller, crappier displays.

"In my view, LCDs are too crisp without ClearType. I find ClearType makes the text look more “robust”, more like printed text than without, LCD or CRT."
Fair enough. That is an entirely subjective statement. I must admit, some of the fonts discussed here (I’ve tried them out) have been the best I’ve ever seen ClearType look. I still don’t like the effect though.


A few months back, Red Hat released a set of fonts called Liberation for free use. Among them is Liberation Mono, which I’ve become a huge fan of and have taken to using for code. They’re available as standard TrueType fonts here: https://www.redhat.com/promo/fonts/


Wow, Consolas is my favorite by far.


I can’t help it, but ClearType always looks blurry to me and hurts my eyes. From the screenshots above I find Vera Sans Mono to still look acceptable, but I still prefer to turn ClearType off.

And yes, I’m using TFTs.


I’d like to play with my font and color settings, but I’m stuck with VS2003 which makes switching UI schemes a pain. Apparently there is a good VS2003 add-in called VS-Styler, which makes switching around color and font settings really easy. Unfortunately, it was hosted on gotdotnet.com, which was phased out. anyone know where I can find it? Google is no help at all.