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  • Writer's pictureIan Morris

Typography series: What is a Monospaced font?

Monospaced Typography series

Seen as the enigma of the typeface world, the monospaced font is rarely discussed. So what is a Monospaced font?

In this typography series, we understand what makes the selection of typography crucial. We explain how fonts help us to process information and how they change perceptions.

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What is a monospaced font?

From my point of view, the term monospaced was one of the lesser known terms when it comes to typography. Though we’ve all most likely used a monospaced font, what does the term ‘monospaced’ mean?

According to Collins dictionary, monospaced is a “font in which all characters have the same breadth.” It sounds like a well-formed font – all letters of equal width, but I know there’s more to this typeface.

Remember those dusty typewriters from back in the day? Well, it turns out they used a font called Courier, a monospaced slab serif typeface. Designed by Howard “Bud” Kettler in 1955, Courier became a popular typeface and a perfect font choice for typewriters. Occupying the same horizontal space, this monospaced font allowed for a seamless flow of writing. Aside from the click-clack of typewriters, their even spaces were put to good use in early computer coding. Their clean form allows for easier readability of code and scanning of content for errors. On this note, I came across an interesting story about a rocket, controlled by software, which contained a typographical error. The outlook was not good. The simple error of mistyping the letter ‘I’ in the code instead of the number ‘1’ resulted in the destruction of the rocket.

What is a monospaced font?

Now we understand the nitty-gritty behind the monospace font, let’s explore its form.

As we know, the characters of monospaced fonts have even widths. This is a unique feature as most fonts are ‘proportionally’ spaced with characters varying in width – like the text you are reading now.

Whilst monospaced is perfect in certain instances, it is the proportional fonts which reign superior. Proportional fonts are quicker to read.

Monospaced Proportional

What’s the future of monospaced fonts?

In reality, there is a time and a place for monospaced fonts. However, this has to be carefully selected.

In terms of current brands, I’ve personally not seen that many brands that introduce monospaced fonts into their plethora of brand assets, however, that’s not to say that they don’t exist. A recent logo and identity for BOMA by Papanapa, incorporate a custom monospaced look and feel, and they carry it off pretty well!

Typography fact:

In 1944, IBM introduced a typewriter that could handle proportional fonts. But the technology never took off. Better to stick with monospaced! (Fact sourced from here).

Need some help?

There are many things to consider with a font whether it be in your logo or your day to day use. All Threerooms brands are created with carefully crafted logos and considered fonts. If you want to find your font, get in touch for a chat.

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