What’s the best font to code in?
Choosing a favorite font to code in is a highly personal preference. But is there a font that is the best for coding? We look at the pros and cons of the top five coding fonts. (Spoiler: it’s not Papyrus.)
Font choice is subjective. Any font choice lies somewhere between personal preference and the default setting on whatever IDE you use. (As long as it isn’t Comic Sans.)
However, many of the most popular coding font choices have several things in common. The characters are often clear to read and distinguish. There needs to be a clear distinction for characters that are often confused, like 1, l, I and i or 0, O, and o. Brackets have to be different as well as quotes and parentheses. Punctuation should be clear as well.
And don’t even get me started on kerning.
In essence, clarity is the highest goal for any coding font.
Fonts can be drawn as bitmaps or vectors. While vector fonts allow for more efficient scaling, they require screens with high resolutions. For low-resolution screens below 720p, bitmap fonts are generally more legible.
So, how can you choose between one? Let’s go over the top 5 coding fonts to see if you really like one.
This open source font family is derived from the Bitstream Vera family, itself close to the Microsoft core Web fonts (see Andale Mono). It is free.
Pros: Excellent Unicode support, clear distinction between similar characters, nice uniform spacing, clean and readable design.
Cons: The “-“ symbol is short, crowded bold styles, no ligatures, the tilde ~ lacks curvature, and the dotted zero may be less readable.
This free monospaced font was created by Raph Levin. It is a humanist monospaced font designed for source code listing, terminal emulators, and similar uses.
Pros: Line height is a little large then normal, great scalability, considered very clear and readable.
Cons: Brackets and parentheses are a little difficult to distinguish, issues with bold, dotted zero.
Source Code Pro is a monospaced sans serif typeface created by Paul D. Hunt for Adobe Systems. It is open-source.
Pros: Easy on the eyes; legible on all displays; comes with several variants including extra light, light, regular, medium, semi bold, bold, and black. Offers italics
Cons: dotted zero lacks clarity, underscores disappear when italicized.
Ubunto Mono is an OpenType-based font family, designed to be a modern, humanist-style typeface by London-based type foundry Dalton Maag,
Pros: Excellent readability, easily distinguished characters, pleasant aesthetics, works for over 200 languages.
Cons: Dotted zero, some characters seem imbalanced, lowercase m stands out.
It is a is a humanist sans-serif typeface.
Pros: Has ligatures, good editor support, supports retina displays, frequent updates, and it installs easily on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Cons: Dotted zero, no sublime text support.