Programming Fonts

In September of last year (2012) Adobe released a free font that was especially created for software developers. Not only do I like the new font, called “Source Code Pro”, the blog post that went along with the publishing ( was interesting to read, too.

I know a thing or two about fonts and typography (I highly recommend the documentary “Helvetica”!) and I even bought a book about this topic a while ago. But I’m far from being an enthusiast, especially when it comes to “new fonts” – mainly because there are way too many blog posts like “20 hottest fonts for X and Y”.

But like many things in life, you sometimes have a feeling about something being good or bad but you can’t put the finger on it why exactly to you it is. But the blog post is giving a nice, brief introduction to what’s important about a font developers use in a terminal application or an IDE, for example.

Well, the most obvious criterion might be that certain characters should be distinct so you wouldn’t confuse them with each other, like the letter i, l and also the | character (like in the OR operator ||) or the letter O and the digit 0 (zero). For example, the Adobe font has a little dot inside the digit 0 which might not be, well, beautiful but it definitely helps a lot!

Also all the different kinds of brackets (curly, round, square) should be distinct and so on and so on…

Maybe it’s just a personal taste but for example, I prefer the asterix to be centered, not superscript. And last but not least, and since code indention is an important part of creating clean code that’s easy read, the font type should be a monospace type.

“Source Code Pro” can be downloaded on the Adobe website so you can install it in your operating system but -and I really like that option a lot- it’s also available as a webfont (via Adobe Typekit as well as Google Web Fonts) so you can style your HTML <code> blocks, too.


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