Take the 2-minute tour ×
Graphic Design Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for Graphic Design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I am trying to find a very good monospace sans serif font to meet the requirements of a client.

However, despite there being a number of them out there, such as Deja Vu, Droid Sans Mono, Cousine, Liberation, and so on... it seems to be they all look basically the same. The differences between them are so subtle that only the most discerning font enthusiast would really note any variation.

I liked OCR-B because at least the lower case "l" had a nice curve at the bottom and not the bog-standard serif-like base on it, but it seems that font might be limited (...and I don't like the upper case Q...).

Are there any sans serif monospace fonts out there that innovate and break the monotony? Something pleasing to they eye that doesn't look like it was written by a typewriter in 1978?

Or am I just dreaming?

share|improve this question
1  
What are you using it for? I think most monospace fonts fall into two categories - either for programming or to resemble typewriter output. –  e100 Jan 26 '12 at 13:06
    
It's for a program that is trying to do something innovative with textual interface. It's kind of a long story, so suffice it to say that I'm trying to get a monospace font that is easy on the eyes and readable. –  Dave M G Jan 26 '12 at 13:42
1  
"Easy on the eyes" is very subjective! My personal favourite for readibility is Droid Sans Mono, but for practical purposes I mainly use Deja Vu Sans, because of the number of glyphs it contains, and because I like it almost as much to look at. But I don't think this is the type of answer you want... –  Mr Lister Jan 31 '12 at 20:39
1  
Ubuntu Mono might be different. –  queueoverflow May 8 at 19:06
add comment

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

TL;DR: DejaVu Sans Mono

The fuller story:

Different features are important, depending on your intended use. If you're after something that will just produce columns or line up where you want, pick any font you like the look of.

If, on the other hand, it's important to be able to distinguish individual characters unambiguously, you need to compare certain character glyphs together. For the following sets, I've listed how the fonts that I've got on my system compare in order of good to bad; there are more mono fonts out there, but this will give you an idea.

[I've discounted Courier New and OCR-A because they are basically typewriter fonts.]

0O

(Zero and upper case "O")

  • Consolas and DejaVu Sans Mono have shapes inside the Zero to aid identification
  • Lucida Console and OCR-B make Zero slightly taller
  • Lucida Sans Typewriter has very little difference

1lI

(One, lower case "L" and upper case "I")

  • Lucida Console, Lucida Sans Typewriter, OCR-B and DejaVu Sans Mono have different serifs
  • Consolas only differ in angle for the top serif on the One and lower case "L"

2Z

(Two and upper case "Z")

  • All installed have good differentiation

5S

(Five and upper case "S")

  • All installed have good differentiation

6b

(Six and lower case "B")

  • All installed have good differentiation

8B

(Eight and upper case "B")

  • All installed have good differentiation

`'‘’′

(Backtick, ASCII apostrophe, open quote, close quote and prime)

  • Consolas, Lucida Console, Lucida Sans Typewriter, DejaVu Sans Mono: all different
  • OCR-B: open and close quotes are the same

You can do this sort of analysis on any mono font you find and are considering using, but based on consistency, I'd be looking at DejaVu Sans Mono for public use. Personally, I use Consolas for my coding, but that's only because I haven't got around to installing the DejaVu fonts on all my computers.

share|improve this answer
    
Thank you very much for taking the time to write this detailed and insightful answer, so +1 for that. I think you make a compelling case for why DejaVu is the most readable out of the usual monospace offerings. But, and I'm sorry to be picky, the question wasn't "which monospace is best", but "does a monospace that doesn't look like the rest exist". DejaVu is actually included in the links I mentioned in my original question, so I had considered it, but also dismissed it because, for all it's clarity between characters, still follows the same conventions. –  Dave M G Jan 30 '12 at 6:17
add comment

Well, it's certainly not often that you find the words "innovative" and "monospaced" in the same sentence.

The only faces that immediately come to mind if you're trying to get away from the typewriter look are Lucida Sans Typewriter and Lucida Typewriter. They have the advantage of a matching serif and sans, and the usual quartet of weights and slant. Letter Gothic might also be a possibility. All of these are OpenType, which is an essential if you need to venture beyond English.

If none of these fit, try browsing the Veer, Emigre and Linotype sites, At the very least, avoid limiting yourself to freebies.

The limitations imposed by monospacing make it hard for type designers to come up with a genuinely fresh take, I suspect, without a mild anesthetic. It isn't as if there's a big market for that kind of typeface.

share|improve this answer
    
I'm definitely not limited to freebies. The client will cover whatever it costs to get a really choice font, so if anyone had an exotic paid font to recommend, I'm all ears. :) –  Dave M G Jan 30 '12 at 6:22
    
Back in the days when the IBM Selectric was king, there were a wide variety of balls available which could adapted things like script and Old English-style lettering so as to look good even with uniform letter spacing. I find it curious that many such fonts never seem to have been migrated to computers. –  supercat Jun 17 at 3:07
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.