Don’t shoot the courier – or, maybe you should

Ever since there have been text editors, there has been the consideration of what font to use to display text. Fonts have progressed from a single choice to screen fonts (remember FIXEDSYS?) to TrueType to ClearType, and so have the choices of what to use (in the case of fixed-space fonts anyway).

First, there was Courier. Looks like a typewriter, everyone hates it for editing. I’m reminded of those days when you had to choose between a daisy-wheel printer (for corresponence quality text) and a dot-matrix printer (for graphics), although there were those booths at the local mall that would print an image on things like a calendar with typed characters…

Anyway, viewing code in Courier looked like this, if you remember (apologies for the large size but necessary for clear screen shots)

Awful! So most of us switched to a font called Lucida Console. Much smoother, and almost a pleasant experience, as you can see below.

Well, get ready to switch again. We’ve just released a new font pack called Consolas. It’s really designed for code editing, taking advantage of the benefits of ClearType.

Below is a screenshot of Consolas. Note how the lines are spaced a bit farther apart, and the number zero has a slash through it. I love it!

So download Consolas now and enjoy…

Comments (32)

  1. BlakeHandler says:

    Speak for yourself – I still find that using a non-proportional spaced font like "Courier" helpful when you really, really, need to get text (columns) to line up correctly. Remember the “ “ (space) also has the same length of an actual character – I depend on this when doing some custom invoice & check reports

    OK, this usually involves a legacy system or two (^_^)

  2. akashra says:

    For me it’s important that to switch to another font, the new one is actually going to be available in other editors.  Eclipse though makes finding where you change the fonts, mm… not exactly where I’d look.  Eventually found it though, and though Consolas will take a bit of getting used to (Eclipse uses Courier by default as well), it looks good so far.  I’m definately finding it better for the console/output views in VS/Eclipse though.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Sorry. But, among the three screenshots, Courier is still the best.

    I’ve tried various fonts for code writing, and Courier always seems to come out on top.


  4. Rosyna says:

    did you mean OpenType instead of ClearType? OpenType is a font format.

  5. So far, there were only two fonts suitable for IDEs such as Visual Studio, Courier New and Lucida Console. …

  6. Invest some time in profont and see if you like it better:

  7. n4cer says:

    "did you mean OpenType instead of ClearType? OpenType is a font format."

    Consolas is one of the fonts that will be available in Windows Vista (and with Office 12) designed specifically to take advantage of Microsoft’s ClearType font rendering technology.

  8. Max Battcher says:

    Awesome.  I’m assuming the ClearType hinting is definitely a major part of this, but I particularly love how Consolas feels a lot less "heavy" than a typical fixed-width font.

    Added to my gVim _vimrc, too:

    set gfn=Consolas:h10:cANSI

  9. John Meyer says:

    Well, I tried it in VS2003 on XP Pro and it’s a blurry mess!  But it’s OK because I don’t need a monospace font because I don’t code command line apps.  I’m sticking with Ariel, easy on the eyes.

  10. Marc Laroche says:

    While consolas is a pretty nice font in its principle , I did find that it has a lot of blurry edges (especially noticeable when background color is not white)… Even with ClearType…

    I`m a good player and will keep Consolas for few days, just to see if I can get over this weakness, but in my view, Lucida Console is still the best choice!

  11. Marc says:

    Just wondering… why is everybody so obsessed with monospaced fonts? I mean, back in the DOS days, when designing for a text screen, I had to align text with spaces.

    Is everybody writing console apps?

    I’m using proportional font (Verdana on my 20" widescreen TFT, Tahoma on my 19" TFT) with certain Keywords/classes in bold — welcome to the 21st century…

  12. glengordon says:

    Blake – It’s my blog, so I will "speak for myself" <grin> and actually Consolas is a monospace font.

    John – It might look blurry because you don’t have clear type turned on. Try the clear type tuner at and see if it helps.

    Marc – I like proportional fonts because the indention (is that a word?) of the code is easier to follow.

    All – thanks for a lively discussion so far, keep it coming!

  13. Dan says:

    To be brutally honest, I’m not a big fan of the Consolas font.  It seems to be quite squashed width-wise and actually hurts my eyes a little to read.

    On the positive side, I do like the fact that the zero has a score through it – it’s amazing how such a small change can make such a big difference.

    For now, I think I’ll be sticking with Lucida Console.  Any chance we’ll see a wider version of Consolas?

  14. Sergio Pereira says:

    One thing I noticed using VS2005 is that is your font is not courier and you have "highlight matching brackets" on, when you’re editing, say, xml the current element gets bolded and its width changes, messing with the alignment..very annoying.

    That’s probably because the font I tried (Proggy or ProggyClean) does not have a real bold version, which causes the editor to simulate the bold version. Other fonts (like courier) have a real bold version which does not change its width.

    What’s the case with Consolas? I didn’t install it yet.

  15. Ryan Smith says:

    I’m going to have to vote for the good ole Courier font.  I still think it’s the best to code with.

  16. CharlieG says:

    I’m ok with Consolas; sans-serif is a bit cleaner  and the parentheses are a hair better. Courier would be my next choice.

  17. akashra says:

    I’ve discovered a significant issue with Consolas.  As I said earlier, I need a font to be usable with not just MSVS, but applications like Eclipse.  Unfortunately, by default Eclipse wants to italicize certain things (for example, statics).  It doesn’t pick up the proper italics version of the font, and instead just uses the regular font and tries to slant it – making it look absolultely aweful (and in many cases unreadable).

    Not sure what to do about this one, but it could mean I have to go back to Courier 🙁

  18. IMHO Lucida Console 14pt (could only the 10pt look "the same"), X11’s 8×13 & 9×15 (which can be converted to Windows’ .fon-format) is the best fonts for coding. I’m using Consolas now to test it out, but the first impression is that it is a bit too "slim".

  19. David says:

    On a 1600 x 1200 screen I get 83 lines of code with Lucida 8 point, but only 71 lines of code with Consolas 8 point. The Consolas looks a little nicer, but I prefer to see more code.

  20. Shital Shah says:

    Just noticed that the settings for SQL Server 2005 IDE is still set to Courier.

    The out-of-the-box appeal of cosolas is not very high which would make it difficult to recommand folks but I’m assuming it would require some getting used to.

  21. akashra says:

    And with further testing – I’ve also found out it can’t be used with VS2003.

    Back to Lucida/Courier it seems.  I have absolultely no idea why VS2003 doesn’t list it as available 🙁

  22. Licensed for VS2005 users only? That’s kind of unfriendly…

  23. There are definitely times that people want to have a fixed width font. You know, times that you want…

  24. Dawood Ali says:

    Best out there for programming. Vera Sans (not monospaced) is great for the rest of the Windows interface. Doesn’t need ClearType either.

  25. Noah says:

    I have to agree with the others… It’s pretty painful to read. I found it unusable myself. Courier works fine for me.

  26. Keith says:

    Missed you at CodeCamp Saturday.  Hope your feeling better.

  27. Phil Hochstetler says:

    You can install it for use with VS2003 even though the install fails if you don’t have VS2005 installed.

    For details:

  28. Eric Newton says:

    Yeah… who codes with monospaced fonts anyways?  I use Comic Sans.