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?

  • 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, 2012 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.
    – Questioner
    Jan 26, 2012 at 13:42
  • 2
    "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, 2012 at 20:39
  • 2
    Ubuntu Mono might be different. May 8, 2014 at 19:06
  • I love it when the OP is named Questioner... makes it really easy 𝆊
    – NH.
    Aug 3, 2017 at 17:19

5 Answers 5


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.]


(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


(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"


(Two and upper case "Z")

  • All installed have good differentiation


(Five and upper case "S")

  • All installed have good differentiation


(Six and lower case "B")

  • All installed have good differentiation


(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.

  • 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.
    – Questioner
    Jan 30, 2012 at 6:17

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.

  • 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. :)
    – Questioner
    Jan 30, 2012 at 6:22
  • 1
    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, 2014 at 3:07

Browsing https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samples_of_monospaced_typefaces shows a few with distinct looks:

  • ProFont (MIT) feels unusually ... asymmetric, specifically many characters have one distinct corner.

  • Everson Mono (paid) is thin and very round, almost circular. Plus, extraordinary Unicode coverage (Michael Everson is one of the principal editors and authors of the Unicode standard).

  • Monofur has very round semi-handwritten forms. The italic variant more so, at first sight risks a Comic Sans reception.

Can't say if any of these are actually good for reading a lot of text.


There's this funky one too: http://practicaltypography.com/triplicate.html.

Edited per request:

  • This is "breaks the monotony" because it is a serif (actual serif). (I don't think I've come across any actual serif monospaced font before. When the serif's are blocky, I wouldn't count it as actually beautiful old serif.)
  • Also, what I think is quite neat, is that it comes with a "coding" variant, where the 1 and l don't look that much alike, and some other small edits.

I don't aim te endorse this font, just came across it a few days ago; but I think it serves as an excellent example, if only proof of concept, that there are actually interesting monospaced fonts out there :)

Part of a screenshot of the webpage showcasing the font:

enter image description here

  • 1
    I wonder why there aren't more "real" typewriter fonts? Actual typewriters back in the day had a nice variety of lettering styles--they weren't all Courier.
    – supercat
    Jul 31, 2018 at 22:32

My answer is DMCA Sans Serif. As of version 9.0, it has 3309 characters and 32 styles, but most importantly, unlike most monospaced typefaces, it is NOT specifically for programming, so it follows the conventions of readable sans-serif text, with large x-height and open counters.

The following images should be viewed in the pixel-perfect, unscaled form; you may have to click on them.

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